How and Why

HAW-chemistry Maybe it has something to do with having a kid, marveling at his process of discovery and thinking about his education, or maybe it just comes down to the tenacity of early memories, but a slight chill went up my spine browsing the covers of these How and Why books from the 60s and 70s. Seems like every elementary classroom, library, and doctor’s office had a collection of these books, and I would read in fascination about how the world worked, thirsty for information in the pre-internet era. I’d love to find some of these again. Would they seem ridiculous and dated if I saw them today? Were they well written? No idea. I mostly remember the style of illustration, and just the feeling of being turned on by life, the universe, and everything. Not all of these goose the nostalgia gland, but the ones that do ring such a happy bell.

Music: Joe McPhee :: Shakey Jake

8 Replies to “How and Why”

  1. I found one hiding in a corner of my parents’ attic recently – I think it was Prehistoric Mammals. Just took a look at that page and, yes, floods of memories!

  2. The covers are awesome but some of those topics seem out of place. I’m sure the US and UK versions of the “American Revolutionary War” editions are a bit different in perspective.

    Am I the only one that thinks it’s weird to have the first book in the series on Dinos when later on you cover the Old Testament?

  3. >the feeling of being turned on by life

    These feelings are triggered by the oddest things. While mowing the lawn a week ago, i was intregued by a giant wasp. A bit of googling and I am now a subject matter expert on the Cicada Killer Wasp. I am fascinated and can’t get enough. The boys and seeking out the nests in the grass and capturing them.

    What a pleasent surprise to be “turned on by life” when least expected.

  4. Oh man, the Magnets and Magnetism one is like seeing a dead relative. I think I owned that one, or my brother did and I stole it. Also getting flashbacks from the Stars, Electricity and the Moon. Cool.

    You made me think of the other childhood knowledge flashback – these 1960s boy scout merit badge books. I stole all of my brother’s (as I did anything he didn’t nail down) and read them over and over. I thought anything you ever needed to know in the world came in one of those books. Who doesn’t need to know how to tan leather and make a tourniquet?

  5. Pamitha, yeah, we had a few of those boy scout books around the house, and I think I also bought some older ones later on to use for collage material.

    I love how “Coin Collecting” and “Citizenship” are on equal footing in the scout badge universe.

  6. I found a few in old boxes at my Dad’s house and started reading them to my son. The science in them is very dated, and the Prehistoric Man was quite patronizingly racist, although I think unintentionally so.

    Better as a memory.

  7. It’s amazing what we find to bring back old memories. Remember the old Popular Mechanics mags? I loved the articles that showed what things would be like in the future. I don’t think my grandfather ever threw one away. I can still see myself sitting in his rocker, when we visited, reading through the stories, looking at the pictures. Those old mags have got to be collector items now. Wonder what other mags are out there?

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