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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: googled (04/10/14)

TITLE: On the Top Shelf of my Bookcase
By Laura Hawbaker


“Get rid of the encyclopedias?” I gasp. Very official looking with their navy and burgundy spines, these books have reigned in this top shelf position for twenty some years now. They look pretty sharp for their age, but maybe that’s because no one has opened them much. The gold lettering proudly announces their title, “Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia.”

I purchased these Funk and Wagnalls back in the eighties when I had a houseful of little children. I was really longing for a set of prestigious World Book encyclopedias, like the ones I grew up with, but found their price prohibitive for our struggling budget. So when the local Super Value ran a special deal on Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedias I couldn’t resist. For a certain amount of dollars spent on groceries you could purchase a volume of the set for ninety-seven cents. We had to buy groceries anyway and the additional ninety-seven cents was hardly noticeable on the final tab.

I was quite proud of my growing set of encyclopedias and though not quite the quality of my fondly remembered World Book, I felt very accomplished when I completed the set. I relegated them to the top shelf in the living room to keep them out of reach of grubby little hands. I looked forward to the day my children would be old enough to get lost in the depths of information between volume number one and volume twenty-nine.

Well, as time and technology would have it, the children grew up and rarely used the books. Shortly after we purchased our first personal computer, we also purchased the World Book on compact disc. I finally had my World Book! Considerably cheaper than the cost of a set of books, the CD’s were packed full of colorful, easy to access information. Then with the introduction of the internet and the wonderful tool of google, even the CD version of World Book became obsolete.

Now, if for some odd reason someone at the supper table wonders what language is spoken in India I say, “I’ll look it up,” as I head to the row of Funk and Wagnalls. While I am climbing on a chair to reach the top shelf, one of my young adult children will say, “I’ll google it,” as they pull out the smart phone. The race is on!

The google users usually win (if the internet is cooperating) but that’s not because I am slow or because I have to climb on a chair. It’s because on my way to India, I get sidetracked with Impressionism and look a few minutes at a painting called “Little Girl in a Blue Arm Chair.” And then I pause to look at a picture of an Inca ruins before I hurry on to the languages of India. So many interesting facts can be found in the turning of pages.

No, I don’t have any immediate plans to recycle my Funk and Wagnalls. They will keep their designated place on the top shelf, right above another endangered species—my 1978 edition of The New Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

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This article has been read 173 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Hawbaker04/17/14
Oh dear! Looks like I failed to include the first paragraph! Bummer! That was the very paragraph I struggled with all week and finally had it where I wanted it...and it was such a good paragraph too!
Take my advise:Don't procrastinate until Thursday morning to write your Challenge article and check and double check before you hit the submit button. I had previewed my article once, made a correction and then did not preview again. Lesson learned--I hope!
Better start thinking about this weeks topic!
C D Swanson 04/19/14
So many entries this week speak of "times gone by" of a simpler day in which we "had to work to look things up." I loved them all, and I LOVE this one!

I can relate to your story, I too had world books growing up. I loved to sit with them in hand and thumb through them with my dad, who loved to watch my eyes as newfound knowledge made its way into my brain.
Oh, those were the days. I thank God I grew up in them.

Great job, and I agree with your ending! LOL.

Thank you for sharing.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/24/14
Congratulations on ranking 11th overall! Happy Dance!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/24/14
I can't imagine how much better it'd be with the first paragraph! I loved it. I used to have a bet with my husband that I could find a definition faster in the dictionary than he could googling it. I even wrote a story about it for the search engine challenge a couple of years ago. Your story made me smile and want to root you on.