Sunday, October 11, 2015

Photos-of-the-Week #232 Blast From The Past, Gone But Never To Be Forgotten, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, August, 2008

This unassuming building with the antique Chrysler parked out front and the ExecutiveBooks.Com sign is not what one would assume from the outside. It was, in fact, the personal library of my dear, long-time friend, the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. I write this in the past tense because Charlie died October 16, 2008. I took these photos on my next to the last visit I had with my friend about two months before he passed away.

As you can see from the other interior photos, this building held a treasure in old and antique books and other memorabilia. There is nothing new in this room. There are no new or current books. There are no new or current recordings. There are no new or current paintings, photos or graphic works. Even the fliers, brochures and booklets on the tables are vintage or antique.

Yes! That is a real, working player piano with a large selection of piano rolls. You can see one threaded in the window on the piano. Over near the windows there is a wax cylinder player. I believe it was an Edison unit. There was a large selection of historic wax cylinders including some important speeches. There was also an old Victrola from the Victor Talking Machine Company with a collection of historic 78 rpm phonograph records.

There was an aura about this room. Over the years I knew Charlie, I had been in the library on several occasions. The building stood adjacent to the guest house Charlie maintained on his small farm in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. For many years during some of the tougher times and the start-up days of his publishing business and his international speaking career, this guest house was his headquarters. The building where the library was housed was the warehouse. Charlie had his personal, private office in the guest house where it remained until his death. Yes! There was a sizable library of books there, too. Some of those were more contemporary. Charlie and I spent many hours in conversation in that comfortable office.

As you look around the library you'll see all kinds of books. Charlie loved books, all books. There were many first editions. He would be speaking to a huge audience and he'd hold up a book and kiss it to get his point across. I don't recall a lot about Charlie's childhood or education. I know he was originally from Alabama. I don't recall if he attended college. He became an insurance salesman for one of the largest U.S. insurance companies at age 22. By age 23 he was winning major sales awards. By 30 he was one of the most successful insurance sales people in the U.S.

This room is the essence of Charlie Jones' love of books, learning and sharing the books and the knowledge gained from them. During his lifetime he published countless books for, at the time, lesser known or unknown authors, several of his own books, supplied millions of books to individuals and businesses and spoke to over 5,000 audiences around the world. To say I cherish these photos and the photos I have with Charlie, is an understatement.

This building still exists. It's now owned, along with the guest house, by one of Charlie's daughters and her husband. I haven't been in either building since the ownership changed. I do know the library, and everything it represented to Charlie, to me and the countless others who visited it, is gone. Charlie had made arrangements to donate all of its contents prior to his death. So, being in that room in the past and now looking at these photos is definitely a “blast from the past” for me. However, while the library is gone, it will never be forgotten, nor will my friend, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.   

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