Over the last 17 years, while drawing close to so many of these lovely people, I’ve also had the pleasure of reading some of the literature they grew up with, or raised their own children on. And one of my favorite discoveries has actually been a rediscovery of a series I was exposed to as a child.
I came across this series a few years ago through a wonderful Colorado bookseller I met when we were both doing some writing for a Christian ministry. Her name is Karen and she has a terrific ebay store called Karen's Living Books; it features rare and out-of-print children’s books.
For years, I’d been haunted by the memory of a Bible-based story about a young brother and sister who befriended an elderly neighbor who had, until their gracious overture, frightened them. I asked Karen if it rang any bells with her, and it did not -- at least, not immediately. But months later, while on a walk, she had a brainstorm; could I be remembering Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories? She just happened to have one volume in stock, and sent it to me.
Bingo! My long-remembered story was not in this particular volume, but everything about this little book told me that indeed Karen had hit on it – the illustrations were right, each story came complete with a biblical moral, and even the tone was exactly what I remembered.
I devoured the copy Karen sent me and have done the same with several others that I've found since then -- in the process, time-traveling to my own innocent and very happy childhood and finding there hope for a joyful forever. (I'm personally of the belief that the Lord gives us moments of joy in this life to point us to the endless joy of His eternal kingdom.)
And there was to be a bonus as well: I stumbled across a series of youtube videos in which charming twin sisters take turns reading these stories for the camera. Alas, Mary and Molly are all grown up now, so I guess there won't be any new Uncle Arthur stories from them. But their videos are still available on youtube. And how wonderful it is to know that there are still children being raised in this country with such a love for the living God.
My elderly friends' world is still alive and well, at least in some neighborhoods. And thanks to authors like Uncle Arthur, we can all step back into it whenever we please.