Wednesday, June 27, 2012

COLLECTION #261: Little Brown Koko

When I was a very little girl, before I learned to read, our family owned this book. I remember it from our years in Oregon, but I don't ever remember it after we moved to South Pasadena when I was five.  But somehow, I could never get it out of my mind. For years, in my memory, there was a book I loved about a little black boy, that had a title that looked like it was made from old wood pieces nailed together. As I grew up and started paying attention to reliving those childhood memories, I wanted to find that book again. But, I couldn't remember the title. Since I couldn't read when I had last seen it, I couldn't picture anything in my mind other than those title letters looking like wood. Of course, I knew it was a book about a little black boy, but none of the more famous titles were right. This was before the internet, and so my searching was limited. At one time, in the late '80s, early '90s, I remember being particularly obsessed with finding the book. Every time I went to an antique store, flea market or thrift shop, I would pore through all the bookshelves, looking for this elusive book.

In about 1994, we were living in East Aurora, New York. I went to an outdoor antique fair held at the Fireman's Field, and lo and behold, sitting right on the first table I saw, was a familiar blue and red book, with the title Little Brown Koko.  I couldn't believe my eyes!  I stared and stared! All of those memories came flooding back as I thumbed through the beloved volume. The price seemed steep to me- $55, but I gladly paid it, because I didn't know if I would ever see it again. It seems kind of funny now, because with internet auctions and the easy availability of information about antiques, I have run across the book dozens of times. But at that moment, it seemed like time stopped, and I was able to relive some happy memories of my young childhood, sharing some fun (if politically incorrect) moments with my friend, Little Brown Koko.

Today this book sits proudly in my antique cabinet, a near-mint edition of Black Americana, and a happy reminder of the power of perseverance and a pretty good memory.

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