Dawn (alphasunrise) wrote,

Book Tracing

I like old books. Some months ago, I picked up an old copy of The Alhambra by Washington Irving. The back cover is falling off, and the front is soon to follow, but what really interested me was the stamp inside proclaiming the book to be part of the Crew's Library for USS DOBBIN. There is no publishing date inside, but it was published by A.L. Burt Company of New York as part of "Burt's library of the world's best books."

So I looked up USS DOBBIN, and read the after-action report for the Pearl Harbor attack. The date stamp in the back of the book is Feb 6, 1939, which I at first took to be the book's acquisition date. I figured the book probably had been aboard in 1941.

The library card is still in the pocket, and J F Costion of 5th division checked out the book on Jan 23. Of what year, I have no idea, but it was definitely after 1929. See, the library card is a standard Navy form (N. Nav. 38) which, like all Navy forms, has a date on it--in this case, the form was created or revised in Jan. 1929.

So I thought I had as much info about this old book as I was ever going to get.

Until tonight. See, the inside of the book had lots of pencil markings. "Dobbin", scribbles, a quick summing of 15, 20, and 15 (thank goodness whoever it was did get 50), and other markings. Then I noticed the stamp underneath a scribble. I could make out an "A" on the end, then a "T", then finally an "O". I thought perhaps the letter before that might be an "S", so I started trying to figure out what ship might have "SOTA" on the end. SARASOTA? Maybe. SARASOTA was built in 1944, and served in the Pacific. Conceivably, a book might have moved to DOBBIN, but I didn't think it likely. So I gently tried to erase some of the scribble without erasing the ink beneath.

"N". I saw one, then maybe two. I got out the flashlight, and looked harder. An "M" at the beginning? "MINNESOTA? Yes! So I look it up, and discover that USS MINNESOTA (BB-22) was decommissioned at Philadelphia Naval Yard just a few months after USS DOBBIN (AD-3) was launched from the same place. The yard finished dismantling MINNESOTA for scrap just six months before DOBBIN's commissioning in July, 1924.

Now, how did it get to that San Diego thrift store??

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