Lost & Bound

meat slaughtering book

So this is important: The hog-dehairer should be thoroughly oiled once a week.

It’s just one of the important tips I learned in one of the treasures I picked up last weekend at an annual used book sale in our fair town.

This sale is the perfect Labor Day weekend tradition for bibliophiles. We can spend hours poring through boxes and boxes of dusty tomes, then we have the rest of the long weekend to delve into our horde.

Yeah, there’s a lot of crap. But patient shoppers can work their way through the Danielle Steels, the Left Behind titles and the 7,328 copies of “The Bridges of Madison County” to find such classics as:

  • “Gifts from a Jar: Year-Round Treats,” full of food mixes for stuffing in Mason jars and giving to friends. (Y’all act surprised come Christmas.)
  • Popular Science’s “Woodworking Projects Yearbook” from 1985, which has plans for a dry sink, a rolling kitchen cart, a drafting table, and a firewood box (which I’m gonna mod for a recycling storage chest for the front porch).
  • A well-worn, perhaps overly-worn second edition of David Embury’s “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” from 1952. He loses cred for calling a Bloody Mary “strictly vile.” But he regains it with this glorious passage from the chapter on glassware: “Now that our cocktail-mixing objectives have been carefully defined, let us assemble our equipment. Then we will go out and buy a few bottles of liquor and, after two or three further warnings against pitfalls and errors, we shall at last be ready to step behind the prescription counter and sing out, ‘Gentlemen, name your poison!'”

My pick of the litter this year, though, is a 1947 treatise titled “Meat Slaughtering and Processing” by C.E. Dillon, a man who, publishers assure us, “has gained his experience by learning and doing … by wading in blood and poking through smokehouses.”

I can’t express how awesome this book is. It’s loaded with plates showing elevations of small slaughterhouses. You know, in case  you want to build your own. It’s got formulas for curing meat. There are butchering diagrams. There are recipes for smoked sausages, scrapple and dry salt bellies. And there’s the ever-important chapter titled “Inedible Rendering.”

Of course, I found some great fiction, too. But something tells me Mr. Dillon’s book will stick with me at least as long as Gunter Grass’s “Local Anaesthetic” will.

So not only am I pulling books out of what is probably someone’s giveaway pile, but we’re giving money to charity. (The sponsoring Ledger-Enquirer uses the money for its Newspapers in Education program.) Best of all, the newspaper is planning a bag sale, where you can pile a brown bag full of the remnant books for a set price, for the weekend of Sept. 14.

Time to make some more room on the bookshelf.


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