John from The Book Mine Set made a comment in my earlier post on book abuse that reminded me of something that happened to me close to 40 years ago (wow, I'm really feeling old after typing that bit). He mentioned having one time ripped out the last page of the book he was reading in order to use that ripped out page as a bookmark, and I flashed back to what must have been 1969 or 1970 when I was still in the army.
The U.S. Army put a group of us on a commercial flight, a relatively small plane, which landed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to pick up additional passengers. We were spread out all over the plane, with one or two soldiers on each row, and we quickly grew bored as the plane seemed to stay on the runway forever with nothing happening. As we looked around for something to do, someone noticed that one of the guys was really involved with a paperback book that he was reading and asked him about it. When it was discovered that the book was really a soft porn novel, several others immediately took interest in the book and asked to take a look at it. The book owner grew tired of being hollered at and starting ripping out each page of the book as he finished it and passing it to the guy closest to him. Eventually all twenty-something of us were reading the book, page by page, as we waited for the new passengers to finally board the plane for takeoff.
The new passengers finally started to come aboard and I suddenly realized that I recognized some of them. I've been a country music lover my whole life and was thrilled to see the Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash, June Carter and the rest of Cash's road show come down the aisle one-at-a-time in search of their seats. Very few of them had seats together and, when everyone was on board we found ourselves mixed in pretty well with members of the Cash show. In fact, I was seated next to one of the Statler Brothers myself and had a nice chat with him before we took off.
Almost immediately after takeoff things got back to normal and the book pages started circulating again. The first time that I passed on a page to one of our guys I excused myself to the Statler Bro. and passed it around him to the next seat. But the next time a page came by he took it from me to pass on but something suddenly caught his eye and he decided to read the page, front and back, before passing it on. Within minutes everyone in the plane, Cash and Carter included, were reading the soft porn book one page at a time until we landed (although I did notice that June Carter went to sleep pretty early on and didn't participate for long).
So there's my story of book abuse at its finest. That was one little book that sacrificed itself in a worthy cause and was read by more people in one afternoon than its "author" could have ever imagined when he was writing it.