“Blue Highways” revisited: What I accidentally found

I was recently looking for my copy of “Blue Highways” to hunt down a particular theme I wanted to recall about “the Midwest.” Finding the book was a bit of a feat considering that I couldn’t remember if I had shelved it under L H or M (the author is William Least Heat Moon). And further, was it with fiction paperbacks or some quirky non-fiction category?

Blue Highways ppb

But here’s the strange and wonderful thing…

When I pulled the book from a shelf after just a minute of looking, I found that it was a beat up old paperback and that got me to wondering how it happened to come into my possession. I frequented library used book sales a lot back in the pre-Amazon day so I figured that’s where I picked it up.

But as I opened it to the dedication page, I found a hand-scripted note from a dear friend, grad school mate, drinking buddy and poet/scholar/steelworker who died a few years ago.

Blue Highways - Sheridan note

This was apparently given to me the very week of my relocation road trip from Ohio to Phoenix. I could see that Jack had undoubtedly picked it up 2nd-hand himself, possibly 3rd-hand. The book has battered page corners and is filled with underlines and notations that are clearly not my style (I’m a highlighter) — none of which I would tolerate if it was a used Amazon book.

Blue Highways notations

But the chain of handing-downs, most especially the long-forgotten inscription from Jack, makes this a one-of-a-kind heirloom.

I’m not sure who wrote the various marginal notes but I’d like to think I see Jack Sheridan’s poetic mind at work, busy pilfering and processing phrases like “a town of portico and pediment,” or “wings akilter” and “the room, redolent with fish and diesel fuel…” for use in his own poems.