A few days ago, I walked by this little note, “Free to a good home! (Smiley-face)”. The note and book were left outside of the copier room where I work. Logically, a good place to stash unwanted items, since the copier room is a pretty central location with a fair amount of foot traffic. Surely, someone would give it a good home as soon as possible. It sat untouched for several days.
I admit, I passed the poor little book for three days and looked at it every time I passed it by. By the third day, I decided that if it was still there at the end of the day, I would rescue it from despair (the trash or worse!). Needless to say, I picked it up and dusted it off on my way out the door.
Upon further inspection, I see that I am now the proud owner of, “The New Pocket Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form“, edited by Norman Lewis, Adjunct Professor of English, Division of General Education, New York University (published in 1961). Lewis is also the author of “The Comprehensive Word Guide, Word Power Made Easy, etc.” This book is especially prepared to help you (me) find the word or phrase quickly and easily. I’m so excited about that.
Just take a look at what this book can do for me:
Here is the first word that I flipped to:
wand, caduceus, rod, divining rod, witch hazel, Aaron’s rod. [magic wishgivers] Aladdin’s lamp, Aladdin’s casket, magic casket, magic ring, magic belt, magic spectacles, wishing cap, Fortunatus’s cap, seven-league boots, magic carpet. (pg 253)
WHAT ARE SEVEN-LEAGUE BOOTS?!
I had never heard of these magical boots before so I looked it up and apparently seven-league boots are mentioned in European folklore. The person wearing the boots can bound seven leagues per step which means they can run super fast. (Seven-league Boots)
I googled seven-league boots and one of the first search results is a book for sale on Amazon called “Seven-league Boots, America’s Most Dashing 1920’s Explorer rides in search of Hannibal“ by Richard Halliburton. The book synopsis from Amazon reads: Some men lead lives of such rare intensity that they disappear into the mists of their own legend. Such a man was Richard Halliburton – Dreamer -Traveler – Poet – Bon Vivant and doomed to die. The rest of the book synopsis on Amazon is pretty interesting and I marked this book as “to-read” on Goodreads.
So who is Richard Halliburton, then?
He is described as a youthful explorer / author that went on some wild adventures in the 20’s and 30’s. He wrote several books about his adventures and apparently they were very popular books. Classic Travel Books website has a list of his books and a synopsis for each. Another click of the google search results sends me to a Smithsonian Magazine article published in 2014 about Halliburton called “The Last Adventure of Richard Halliburton, the Forgotten Hero of 1930s America”. Pretty interesting!
So what are the chances that this free-to-a-good-home-thesaurus would lead me to Seven-league Boots and then to Richard Halliburton?!