She'd only read PERRY MASON

I once had a landlady who would only read Perry Mason books. She was elderly, a Phi Beta Kappa, Berkeley graduate, and the widow of a judge. I believe her family had known Earl Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason. They had also known Jack London, but those books didn't interest her.

She had a stack of well worn Mason's that she'd read over and over. Some held together with rubber bands. I started checking Mason books out of the library for her. Then I began buying them for her at the bookstore. She always paid me back. This was at a time when Earl Stanley Gardner was still being published. Good luck finding any Perry Mason books new on a shelf these days.

Anyway, I also started hunting in thrift stores and used book stores. I enjoyed it. I kept a list with me of the ones I'd bought so I wouldn't buy duplicates for her. I enjoyed the hunt. I wasn't keeping them. I'd even find them on vacation and be thrilled when I got home with my new treasure for her. Always she'd pay me back, even when I'd insist it was a gift.

When my landlady died I asked her family, a husband and wife related to her through her deceased husband, if I could have the Perry Mason collection. Okay, this still irks me. They were so incredibly petty. They'd never shown interest in these books. They'd never bought her any. There were over 50 books in the collection, all paperbacks from various time periods. A really interesting range of covers. Weeks and weeks passed until one day the guy shows up with a box. He said, "Here, my wife kept the rest." What do you think they gave me? The ones falling apart. The ones with rubber bands holding them together. Basically if it was still in useable condition the wife kept it. Annoying people.

Because I spent so many years looking for Perry Mason books I still look for them. Now I buy them out of habit if they have an old interesting cover. I have about 25 books, most in sad condition. Make that VERY sad condition. Below are the rare exceptions.

I have no idea about illustrators for any of them. No information is given.

Oh, and I once went to the home of Raymond Burr, television's Perry Mason. This was after he had died and I was with a group, there to see his hot house. Sound's odd, doesn't it? Well he had a stunning collection of orchids. A hot house full of them. He was renowned for cultivating the mysterious and temperamental flower. You can still visit the hot house at his winery, Raymond Burr Vineyards.


  1. Now that's the kind of story I enjoy reading - yours not his!

  2. I'm irked at that family too. Those books should have gone to you. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually got tired of them and gave them to Goodwill or sold them at a garage sale. Death often brings out the worst in people - and you can read that any way you want.

  3. I wouldn't be surprised if they threw the books away within a few weeks. It was all done in such a cold petty manner. I had never really gotten along with the people. From what I've heard from others who went to high school with them, nobody ever got along with either of them.

    Now the good side to all of this is that when they were cleaning out the basemen,t instead of keeping a lot of the ephemera, they just threw it in the trash can. Each night after they were gone I was trash can diving. Lots of menus from cruises aboard Cunard lines. Lots of old postcards from travels in Europe, Mexico, and I can't remember where else. However, I do remember asking the man if he found any interesting old paper that I'd love to have it. Nope, he had no intention of having a kind heart. It was trash. They were happy to be rid of her. She was old and a little crazy. They could now sell the property and get their money.

    I saw them recently at a restaurant. I smiled, said "Hello" and was thinking of just going over to the table and saying "Hey putz. Are you still as big a putz as you were years ago? Just askiin'?" But I didn't. I was thinkin' it!

  4. I'm a tremendous fan of the old television programme, and have been since I was a child. Della Street was one of my first crushes. haha.

    I'd never actually seen any of the books before...never even thought about them. However, since you've brought them to my attention, I would fancy tracking some down a reading them one day.

  5. They're actually fun to read. Formula writing. Same basic characters each time, obviously. But they take place in a time period before the 50s so there's the added influence of a different ambience. They aren't like reading a Cain or Chandler, but yes, they're fun.

  6. I have a picture of you lurking by the trash cans! Have you read 'The Red Leather Diary'? A similar trash can type experience and a brilliant read. Although I was aware of Raymond Burr's portrayal of Perry Mason, he was always Ironside to me. My Dad introduced me to a lot of the old detective novels, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and George Mann's Sexton Blake novels in particular. I also love those old B&W movies esp Humphrey Bogart.

  7. Yes, I've been known to be a trash can lurker. This was not my only occasion. I'd forgotten about Ironsides. I just always think of either Rear Window or Perry Mason when I see a picture of Burr. He was so wonderfully creepy in Rear Window.

    I'll look into that book, The Red Leather Diary. Sounds quite interesting.