The Prodigious Hickey: An Acquisition (by Bethany)

Today I have absolutely nothing to say about Diana Gabaldon. Don’t worry – I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (which is picking up, by the way). But for now I want to show you my find for the day. I walked into the Friends of the S.F. Public Library Used Bookstore at Fort Mason today and – no joke – walked right smack into this book:

The Prodigious Hickey

Then I opened it, and was immediately confronted with this AWESOME inscription:

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If you’re not fluent in the language of early 20th-century quasi-European handwriting, I’ll translate. It says, “A Birthday Greeting / to / Edward Rebseher / From his Pastor / Alesc Eakin / S.F. April 14 1931.”

I’m not quite sure about the “Alesc” bit. It could say Alex, or maybe something else, or it could be one of those Eastern European variations on “Alex” (Aleks, etc.). “Eakin” doesn’t sound very Eastern European, but it could be an Ellis Island revision. I don’t know.

There is so much to love here. I love the idea of this pastor setting out, in the depths of the Great Depression, to buy The Prodigious Hickey as a birthday gift for a member of his congregation. Did he set out with this specific book in mind, or did he browse for a while, examining Light in August and Babylon Revisited and The Good Earth carefully before setting them aside, picking up The Prodigious Hickey, and saying, “Yes, this is it. This is the one”?

The title refers not to an actual hickey but to a person named Hickey, who seems to be a young faculty member at Lawrenceville. This author has written many other books set at Lawrenceville. The list of the author’s other works didn’t scan well, so I’ll type it out for your edification:

The Varmint, The Tennessee Shad, Skippy Bedelle, Stover at Yale, The Woman Gives, Virtuous Wives, The Wasted Generation, The Salamander, Making Money, The Sixty-First Second, The Spirit of France, Blue Blood.

I’m glad I only have one of these books. If I had them all, I wouldn’t know where to start.

More on today: I roamed the city (mostly by car) with my friend Kate, who wanted to see the parts of San Francisco not often frequented by tourists. It was a day of admiring architecture, marveling at the weather (though I missed my fog a little), and freaking Kate out on some very scary hills. Then I made her miss her return train, and we ended up in a delightful Turkish restaurant in what used to be a bad neighborhood. The people at the next table ordered something that needed to be set on fire.

Here’s to old friends, my quirky city, and whatever deity arranged for The Prodigious Hickey to be sitting right at the entrance of the bookstore, waiting for me.

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