I was recently reading a book, Uh-Oh by Robert Fulghum that I purchased a few years ago. I only recently had the opportunity to read it. I was enjoying the book and started to think about the book’s previous owner. I noticed an inscription on the inside front cover of the book. Nothing too fancy or any deep thoughts. No Happy birthday, just a simple “from Bob and Jill.” Who were Bob and Jill and what was their relationship to the previous owner?
The book also bears thte seal; “Library of Richard Whitney.” I started to wonder about Richard W. and how I came to own his book. Richard obviously liked the book enough to emboss it with his seal. It must have taken up residence on his bookshelf for a time. Did something happen to Richard and his family sold his library? Maybe he fell on bad times and had to sell his book collection.
I settled on the story that he is like me and just has too many books and not enough room to store them. Though I loved reading Uh-Oh, it will be making its way onto my Amazon bookstore before too long and then on to its next owner for their enjoyment.
I thought about Richard reading the book before me. I was sitting on my gradio (my joke for grass patio or as most would call it, a yard) finishing the book and thinking about Richard. Who was Richard Whitney?
A quick Yahoo search brought up Richard Whitney, a former financier who was a convicted embezzler. That would explain the need to sell the book, maybe to cover his attorney’s fees. Alas, that Richard died seventeen years before Uh-Oh was published.
Next on the list was Whitney the artist. This Richard Whitney is still alive and therefore, still a possibility. He is a famous portrait and landscape painter with pieces hanging in over 650 collections worldwide. His fame and probable fortune probably precludes him from selling his old books on eBay. My search goes on.
There is a Dick Whitney who was involved with the skiing industry. You may enter the Richard Whitney Memorial Slalom. It seems that Dick sadly passed away in 1998 and could have owned the book, however I do not think it is likely that his heirs waited years to divest his collection.
And from the world of Illinois politics is Rich Whitney. A former Green Party candidate for the office of governor of Illinois, he is planning another run for the office vacated by disgraced Rod Blagojevich. As the Green Party candidate, it would fit that he would “recycle” his books and sell them, however, he is probably the type to donate the books to a library. Maybe the library sold the books on eBay.
I have accepted that I will never know who my Richard Whitney is/was, but that is ok. It is interesting to think about who owned this book before me and imagine who will enjoy it after.
From the Library of Framing the Dialogue.