Love excluded, I don’t really believe in games of chance, which means I don’t play the lottery. Yet just a few weeks ago, as many of you well remember, the Powerball jackpot grew to just over nine hundred and eighty million dollars and it was hard not to notice given everyone was buying a chance and talking about what they’d do if they hit it big.
I was sitting at breakfast commenting on the fact I was having a good hair day. Two seconds later I logged in to check the kiddos’ grades and what did I see? A’s, including the math class we thought might be his Waterloo and that new foreign language I wasn’t so sure about. That’s the moment I looked up and jokingly said “with an A in math, good curls and nearly a billion dollars on the line, maybe today's the day I should play the lottery.” Which is how I found myself standing at a counter I seldom frequent buying six dollars worth of chance I never take later that very afternoon.
Once I had some skin in the game (six bucks isn’t nothing, people!) and stopped marveling over the fact that being worth a dozen some odd zeroes might just be enough to get me a seat at the big kids table for dinner with one of my business idols, I, too, took a turn dreaming about how I’d spend what a single winner would find to be just over seven hundred million dollars after tax.
There was a church and five charities that would receive a one-time gift to be used as they pleased as well as a trust to be created for each organization that would remain in place and help people long after I was a memory. I liked it. There were houses to buy for family and friends and gifts to give to the people I love. It would be a good deal for everyone. And apparently I need a new wardrobe since every time I go to the county clerks office to look up genealogy records, they ask me if I’m there to file for child support. I’d have to see to that, too.
But if you want to know the truth, what I was most excited about in the short term was buying a complete set of the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy. Yep, you heard me correctly. I wanted to buy some old books. Before you choke on your soda, let me explain that I’m not talking about your old encyclopedia Britannica’s here. The Hinshaw Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy comes in six volumes plus index and costs nearly four figures a book. First printed in 1936, the Hinshaws have only been updated two times since; 1948 and 1969. The first set I ever had my hands on were leather bound, first editions kept under lock and key and could only be read if I made an appointment. Imagine how excited I was at the prospect of owning my own set!
So the Powerball drawing has come and gone and as you’ve probably guessed, I didn’t win and I didn’t get to buy those first edition Hinshaws I was longing for. But I did find another complete set housed in a local library recently and guess what? They’re in paperback! It seems reprints were authorized in 1978, 1991 and again in 2014, which means while they’re technically out-of-print (read hard-to-find), a few volumes of the newest edition are floating around out there. While they aren’t cheap, they’re much closer to costing dinner for five at a nice steak house versus vacation funding for a four-day weekend.
This arrived in the mail today because someone who loves me a lot knows I love books and that I’m more than a little obsessed with my genealogy work. It’s Volume I, part B, which means I’m missing part A, but I don’t mind a bit. Part A’s out there somewhere along with volumes two through six and the index, waiting to be discovered just like so much of the history of my family. Good thing I’m determined to find it.