I loved this book, even if it was hopelessly dated in the 70s and 80s.
I am the youngest of four daughters. There is an eight year gap between me and my next oldest sister. Even though there is a large gap between my sisters and me, I inherited a lot of their stuff when I was growing up. One of my favorite hand-me-downs was a book called The Golden Book of Facts and Figures. Published in 1962 by The Golden Press, this book was loaded with information that was accurate circa 1962. I was fascinated by it.
I don't have that book anymore, but I did find a fun blog post about it yesterday. Click here to see a picture of the book and its innards. You will see that there were many colorful pictures on a huge array of topics. I remember reading about everything from U.S. presidents (up until 1962, anyway), the five senses, zoology, astronomy, and anatomy.
I'm pretty sure my favorite part of the book was the part about the planets. The author, Bertha Morris Parker, had constructed a chart that offered a visual comparison about what the planets were like (as they understood them in 1962). One of the columns in the chart was the question "Capable of sustaining human life?" For each of the planets, there was the word "no", except for Venus. Apparently, in 1962, there was a belief that someday we might be able to live on Venus. I find that hilarious now, but when I was a child, it opened up a whole realm of fantasies and possibilities. I remember marveling at the idea that someday I could visit Venus.
I also loved reading about carnivorous plants, which if I recall correctly, was a subject that was covered in this book. I loved looking at the illustrations of Venus Fly Traps and Pitcher plants, plants that would trap and eat hapless bugs that got caught in them. I remember having my curiosity piqued by the subjects within this book and wishing I had more information. I guess, in a sense, that's what made this book so good. It whetted my appetite for learning and made me want to know more. And that required looking for other sources of information, which is one of the best ways to learn something new.
At some point, my copy of this book disappeared. I'm sorry it's gone, because I distinctly remember drawing and writing all over the inside cover. I remember drawing a crude picture of a naked woman and writing mild expletives. It was very childlike and I'm not really sure what possessed me to defile that book in such a way. I think one of my sisters might have drawn in it first and I just decided to follow suit with my own artistic and verbal renderings. Even those crude drawings remind me of something else from the past, though.
In my grandmother's house, there was a little closet under the stairs. When my cousins and I were little kids, we used that closet as a fort/clubhouse of sorts. I was usually on the fringes of the "cool clique" at Granny's house and was relegated to playing with my younger cousins, who have since grown up to be very cool people, but back then were strictly B List. I remember my cousins and I wrote on the walls of that closet, just as I wrote on the inside of my book. Many years later, my uncle remodeled the closet and removed our childlike graffiti. I wish he'd left the graffiti, since that house has been in our family for probably 70 years or more. My dad was actually buried near the house for about a year until my mom moved him to the family church's cemetery. I guess she worried that someday, no one in the family would own the house anymore.
I'm not sure what made me think of Facts and Figures yesterday. I guess the older you get, the more things like that pop into your head and you start feeling nostalgic. I'm almost tempted to see if I can buy another copy of this book and relive the wonder.