City of Sand Lake

Bay Leaf Books home of jade plant with unexpected origins

April 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA The beauty of a used and rare book store is the unexpected items that can be found within, changing from week to week and with each buyer and seller of the unusual treasure. At Bay Leaf Used and Rare Books in Sand Lake, shoppers can explore to find a piece of the Congo in a collection of fossils and stones, the aching beauty of an Atlas moth mounted on parchment, or perhaps a used book that brings back forgotten childhood memories or triggers other emotions. The fun is in the finding, and sometimes never knowing how this book, that fossil, or piece of ephemera came to land there on the shelf. Each has a mystery and a story behind its continued journey—something never found in the shipped, prepackaged goods sold in our country’s millions of big box stores. In a sunny spot in the children’s room, a smallish jade tree sits unassumingly in its porcelain pot. Those browsing by may not realize their close brush with history. The jade is in the care of Margaret Carlson, but it began its leafy life far from Sand Lake. Typical of the eclectic items found in such places as used book stores and other shops where items find a new life, the jade has an interesting story behind it. Like the jade, Carlson herself is a transplant to West Michigan. She described, “I came from England with my family, starting off at University of Alberta, Calgary, then Grand Valley, then Ramapo College of New Jersey, then back to Grand Rapids as it is the best place of all.” Carlson said it was over 40 years ago when she was living in Mahwah, N.J. when she saw an ad in the New York Times about a sale at the cottage of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The cottage, Fal-Kill, near Hyde Park, N.Y., wasn’t far from Carlson’s own home. A great fan of Eleanor Roosevelt, Carlson said she couldn’t resist going to the sale to see the home of the woman for whom she had such admiration. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 and died November 7, 1962. She was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported […]