You know those times when you have something to share but you don't know how to properly express the level of awesomeness that goes along with it? That's how I'm feeling right about now. Last summer, I picked up this 1915 copy of Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn in the books-for-sale section of our library. You've read before about our library's awesome shelf of antique books that sell for super cheap---it's irresistible! I try to pick up Longfellow when I see him because I plan to save them for our own Evangeline---four year old Brenna Evangeline.
The reason I got so excited about this copy is because of what's written inside. Don't worry, I'll show you in a minute...just let me tell my story! If you're not familiar with Tales of a Wayside Inn, here's the scoop: Originally published in 1863, the book is narrated in turns by fictional friends who are staying at the real-life Sudbury, Massachusetts inn and are telling stories in the form of poems. The Wayside Inn was actually known in real life as The Red Horse Tavern. It was established in 1716 and was a popular hangout for Harvard students until it closed in 1861 upon the death of the owner. Longfellow visited in 1862 and was inspired after receiving a tour of what he thought to be a "rambling, tumble-down building."
In 1897, the inn was reopened by a man who wanted to restore it and fill it with the beautiful antiques he'd collected on his travels. One of the pieces he added was Daniel Webster's desk. (Yes, the dictionary guy.) In 1923, Henry Ford bought the inn and that's where this book comes in.
Just like Longfellow's group of friends who stayed at the inn, Mr. Glenn L. Davis and Mr. Max Herzog visited the inn with their wives and recorded the event by signing the inside of this book on August 28, 1930. What's more, they signed it on Daniel Webster's desk! Whomever owned this book also thought it was a special memento because they came back to it 25 years later to record the fire that destroyed Webster's desk in 1955, along with many other beautiful antiques and much of the inn.
There is so much fun history to be read about The Wayside Inn---it's still operating today! It's located along the Old Boston Post Road---one of the oldest in the country, having been in operation since 1673. George Washington passed through there in 1775 on his way to Cambridge to take command of the Patriot army. In fact, it's recorded that both Washington and LaFayette passed by numerous times. Henry David Thoreau noted in his journal that he left his horse there in 1853 while attending to other business in town.
So, what do you think? Pretty awesome, huh?
How I love books! Beautiful, wonderful, holders of history.