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In the days before Fortnite…Delving into a hidden trove of children’s books

Next to a small wooden cradle in the Homestead attic is a large wooden chest with a hinged lid. The chest is empty except for a few books at the bottom—25 in all. Books written for children and read by children.


The books fully represent two generations of Mathers. One book bears the dedication, “Bettie With love and a Happy Birthday from Aunt Maria Walker, August 10th 1912” This was given to Stephen T. Mather’s daughter, Bertha, to mark her sixth birthday.


On the inside of four books is written “John and Edward McPherson.” Edward McPherson would become Bertha’s husband; John was his twin brother.


Other books have bookplates or inscriptions for each of Bertha and Edward’s three children, Anne, Stephen, and Jane.


Among the books are the first three in the Mary Poppins series (of 8). By 1942, the

first book, Mary Poppins, was already in its fourteenth printing.


Robinson Crusoe, Calvert of Maryland, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, the Indians of the Pueblos and the Bennikins-Bunnies all harmoniously share the comfort of chest.


Why do we save certain books or toys? And then in time, wonder why we did? But gratefully, these books were saved and with them we are rewarded with one more glimpse into growing up at the Homestead.


Photos:

The Bennikins-Bunnies at Camp/ Nibbles Poppelty-Poppett


Mary Poppins Comes Back/Mary Poppins/Mary Poppins Opens the Door


A Treasury of Tales for Little Folks/Robinson Crusoe/Folk Tales Retold


Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens


Ruth of Boston/Richard of Jamestown/Calvert of Maryland/Peter of New Amsterdam

James Otis (Kaler) American Book Company Series. Copyright 1910



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