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The VNSA Sale.

VNSA annual book sale

Look at all the kooks.

Book kooks.

That includes me, of course, cause I snapped this pic, and we’re all kooks cause it’s 5am on a cold, cold February morning, and we’re lined up like cattle for when those doors open 3 hours later.

Early bird gets the worm!

I’ll also add a “cold, cold February morning” in Phoenix, AZ, means maybe 45 degrees. But if you asked any one of us, that’s sub-zero conditions.

One of the best parts of the whole VNSA experience are the kooks you befriend while waiting in line. It really turns into a camaraderie of sorts, and this year I befriended an old hippy and his daughter. She’s studying the Romantic poets at A.S.U. So, in between stories of catching bands like Ten Years After live in concert in, say, 1969, we’d get to talk about Coleridge and Wordsworth and Blake.

Come on. Admit it. That’s some 5 am fun!

The Visiting Nurses Book Sale is in something like its 54th year, and I’ve gone — on and off — for the past decade.

Their mission: “The purpose of the VNSA Used Book Sale is to raise funds for three nonprofit human service agencies: Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County, and Toby House, Inc. VNSA members work year round preparing and producing one of the largest charitable used book sales in the country.”

VNSA annual book sale

This, of course, is my excuse to spend way too much money. “But it’s a charitable donation!” I told my sister as I signed the check.

Here’s some of the worms this early bird scored:

1) A whole box full of vintage sleaze, and every single magazine is in near-perfect condition. Vintage sleaze is hard to find in good condition, mainly cause it was usually read to death (not to mention other unmentionables I won’t bother to mention here) or hidden in secret spots that didn’t really lend to aging well.

2) Some great HP Lovecraft cloth bound titles. They’re not the earliest printings (super duper scarce) but they’re still really cool…and kinda hard to find.

3) A stack of Scientific Americans from the WW I era, all totally minty.

4) Some Beatles sheet music, again totally minty and totally sweet.

5) Adolph Hitler — a book published by a German tobacco company at the height of our very favorite murderous dictator’s rise to power in pre-WW II Germany, heavily illustrated with tipped-in photographs featuring Der F├╝hrer in all sorts of kind, considerate poses (visiting hospitals and hugging children and old people and contemplating life in the back yard of his Austrian retreat). Here’s the cool part about this book: apparently you purchased it without the pictures, and when you went out and bought your cigs, you’d clip the coupon on the back of your pack of smokes and send it in, and a few weeks later you’d get a whole envelope full of black and white photographs. There were directions on where all the pics should be glued in to the book. Oh, such niceties make me yearn for the days of olde! Imagine a beautiful, German Saturday afternoon…a family gathered around the kitchen table, finishing off their copy! The one I grabbed is completely intact; not one of the pics are missing (actually, entire pages of the book are usually cut out when they turn up today).

So, all-in-all I’d say it was totally worth the 4 am alarm clock and the really shitty Circle K breakfast sandwich (which, of course, I finished) and my nice new friends and the freezing cold temperatures.

In other words, I can’t wait til next year.

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