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Little Black Book

Not long ago I wrote about the “Black Book my parents wrote of their life together for us kids. I stressed in that post how this Black Book was not one of those little black books that men used to carry with them containing the names and phone numbers of women they knew. But recently, I ran across this little black book of my dad’s.


This little book, rather than being one of those ubiquitous ones for scheduling nefarious assignations, is actually a small pocket calendar—from 1999.


My dad used to record his daily activities in a desktop calendar book that I gave him each year for his birthday. But until I found this book, I had completely forgotten that Dad also used to carry these little calendar books in his left breast pocket for writing down dates or remembering dates. As I ran my hands over its crinkled, black leather cover, I began to recall so many images of my dad reaching into his pocket to take it out. I sniffed it to see if it still had the scent of him since it would have been next to him all of his waking hours but after 15 years, there was no fragrance left.


As I started flipping through the pages, I remembered this was also where Dad used to record people’s addresses and telephone numbers.


As I thumbed through the calendar pages, I began to see some of the events he recorded. There were appointments to get his hair cut, church meetings, and relative’s birthdays with their age noted on that date, no doubt so that he would remember to call them to wish them a happy birthday. And there were numerous early morning appointments to fish with his friend “Bud”, a life long leisure activity of my Dad’s.


Sadly, this particular calendar book also chronicled the cancellation of my parent’s annual trip to the Austin Seminary Lecture series where they were to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary (The family anniversary celebration had occurred the previous August in Montreat, NC). The reason for the cancellation of this trip was my mom’s hospitalization and surgery; a malady that ultimately led to her death also documented a few pages over in the calendar book.

When I got to July, I found that Dad had scheduled hernia surgery, something that I too have had to get repaired recently. I seemed to recall that Dad had this surgery but when I was scheduling my own surgery, I couldn’t recall for sure. This page confirmed it.


In the back of the book, I came across page after page of hand written addresses. As I read through them all, I remembered the names of friends I had heard my parent’s talk about over the years, but names that I had not thought of in many years. Since each little book only covered one calendar year, I realized one of Dad’s annual activities was to transfer by hand each number from his old book to his new book.


Not that I was necessarily trying to be like my dad, but recently I got my own version of a little black book, albeit an upgrade to my cell phone.


This more modern version not only contains a multi-year calendar but also stores all the names and addresses that never have to transcribed year to year from one book to another and can also hold a multitude of photos that men used to carry in their wallets. For this modern version is in fact a miniature computer that in addition to storing significant volumes of data, can be used to search anything on the internet.


I wonder if my dad had lived long enough if he would ever have converted from his paper pocket calendar book to a digital one. My dad did have a cell phone but never obtained a smart phone. But after over 50 years of carrying these small books in his shirt pocket, it might have been too much to break that long held tradition. And in the end, it’s best he didn’t convert because I now have this hand-written heirloom to treasure for many years to come.

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