“Look That Up in Your Funk & Wagnall’s”

The title of this post is a catchphrase from Laugh In (1968-1973), a weekly comedy show that I sometimes found funny, sometimes found amusing, and often found stupid. I bring it up because my parents owned a Funk & Wagnall’s encyclopedia. It was of a 1940s vintage, though I don’t remember perusing it until 1953, when we moved to a house with a built-in living-room bookcase, where the volumes occupied a prominent spot.

In any event, I looked at and into the encyclopedia so often from 1953 until I left for college in 1958 that I still remember the alphabetic divisions noted on the spines of the volumes:

I recall that there was also a final volume which contained a comprehensive index. And there were some “yearbook” updates.

Note the preponderance of words beginning with letters in the first half of the alphabet. Entries with letters beginning with “n” through “z” occupy only 7-plus of the 25 volumes.

What happened to the set? I don’t know. My mother moved out of the house in 1990, not long after the death of my father. Her next abode was much smaller, and the encyclopedia wasn’t in it. I never thought to ask her what happened to it. And now she is beyond asking — having died a few years ago at the age of 99.

Thank you for indulging this bit of nostalgia.

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