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Tattered books ready for facelift after repair day
45 attend 38th annual event at library
Ken Jewell, with the National Library Bindery Co., looks over a cookbook belonging to Terri Strayhorn during the Bible and Old Book Repair Day at the Gainesville main branch of the Hall County Library System. - photo by Tom Reed

The now tattered cookbook was a wedding gift, and on an inside page is a 45-year-old inscription.

"I hope you enjoy cooking for your little girl as I have for you."

That page, Terri Strayhorn tells the man behind the desk, needs to be saved.

Strayhorn handed over the cherished American Home cookbook, given to her by her mother, Tuesday at the Hall County Library System's 38th annual Bible and Old Book Repair Day.

"It's so precious to me," said Strayhorn, as she chose a new green cover and gold lettering for the book. "... I didn't know how to cook. That is all I had."

More than 55 books, ranging from cookbooks to Bibles to family histories, were offered a new life Monday by Ken Jewell of the National Library Bindery Co. Jewell will take the books back to his Roswell office, and in a few months, they will return to the Gainesville library branch for pickup.

"Unfortunately, people like us can't be on every street corner," Jewell said. "And (many people) really hate the prospect of turning their books over to ground transportation. ...That's the appeal of this event."

Henry S. Jennings Jr. came to the repair day with a book written by his wife's grandfather's sister.

Jennings was hoping to keep the lettering on the family history volume, and Jewell advised the best way to do that would be to cut out the section and set it into a new cover.

Jennings chose a black pin grain leather for the sides and spine.

"As far as we know that's the only copy," he said.

"Others were produced, but we don't know where they are."

A majority of the 45 people who stopped by the library Monday brought Bibles, one with family record pages dating back to 1855.

"Each Bible had its own story," Jewell said. "A lot of them were brought by pastors, especially older pastors who carried their books around. One guy said he carried his book to every foot washing he could go to."

One woman brought a small Bible that she had purchased for her son when he was in middle school. When the boy went through a difficult period in his life, the mother picked it up and began to use it herself. Her notes, many on sermons preached by her other son who is a pastor, are scribbled in the margins.

Once it is rebound, the woman plans to give the book back to the son whom it was originally purchased for.

"Now that he's grown and got his life back on track, I thought he'd appreciate seeing it and having it," she said.

Strayhorn still uses the cookbook her mother gave her.

Many of the classic recipes for turkey and stuffing end up on her Thanksgiving table each year. The edges are stained from years of use in the kitchen, but Strayhorn told Jewell to not trim the pages.

"I'm just glad to get it back," she said. "I can pass it on to my daughter now."