Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Remembering: Terrell Park Library

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We rode in the compact station wagon, most of us facing forward. The rest rode looking out the back window. Because I struggled with motion sickness, I got to sit in the front seat, next to my mom. Once a week, she'd take the six of us to the Terrell Park Library. Forty years later, I can still clearly remember what the building looked like. The drop box outside. Mostly, I remember the little blue cardboard library card, with the metal bar running through it. It had my name printed on it. It was just mine. All mine. I kept it safely tucked into my little plastic wallet. That it had little or no money in it didn't matter. My library card was in there.

Free to wander the aisles of the library, I'd usually head to the biography or mystery section. The shelves seemed to go to the ceiling. Filled to the brim, they called to me. I'd walk down the aisles, with my head cocked sideways, scanning the titles. Nurse Barton, Nancy Drew, books about our presidents, their wives; Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin. It was so, so hard to pick just three - the checkout limit. I still remember walking to the checkout desk, presenting them to whoever stood behind it. I was afraid she would give me a onceover, deign me not worthy of being entrusted with such treasures.

Once home, I was completely content to stay inside and devour my books. "Oh please, don't send me outside 'to play'." My sister, Barb, and I would take turns holding the flashlight under the covers at night, to squeeze in a little more reading time. Usually we didn't get caught, or at least we didn't think so. Sometimes Dad would see the light coming under our door and holler, "Lights out!" We must have burned up a lot of those "D" batteries.

The most beautiful book I remember reading was Misty of Chincoteague, the story of wild horses crossing the bay from Chincoteague Island. This yearly event continues to this day. Gazing at the pictures in the book took me right there. It's still a goal of mine to actually visit the place, and see the horses come over. Back then, I longed for Misty to be mine. (What I would have done with her, down in the deep south, in a 3 bedroom tract home is beyond me, but I sure did dream of it.) The sappiest book, which I dearly loved, was They Loved to Laugh, and years later I ordered a copy on Ebay, just because I'd loved it so. After I reread it (it really was sappy) I put it one of our guest rooms. Some visitor may want to stay up late and cry a bit. Christy, the story of a young girl who goes to the Appalachia to teach in a one room schoolhouse, is still dear to me. I buy every single used copy of it I run across, to give away. Everyone needs to read Christy. I've read it several times, and will likely do so again. The entire Anne of Green Gables series captivated me. Because of it, I hope to visit Prince Edward Island someday. In my mind I've already been out in the orchard, picking apples with Anne. Swiss Family Robinson made me long to build my own vast tree house, Island of the Blue Dolphins - to swim in the sea, Treasure Island... Oh - the places I've been through books.

Mothers give us many gifts over our lifetimes. Spending a part of our family's tax return to buy me a piano - that stands out. Paying for the plane ticket to fly home for my brother's funeral. Taking me with her to the grocery store, when God knows she would have loved a moment of peace away from the six of us. Letting us use her clean sheets to build houses over the clotheslines. All of these are sweet memories of her giving heart.

Oh,but the trips to the library. Week after week, to take three more books home. I need books. My soul longs for them. For hours spent just mulling over the words. It amazes me sometimes that a book can sit on a shelf for months, years, untouched. Then I open it and climb into the story. Once I start it, it calls to me - I'll give up sleep, food, just about anything else for a little more time spent in its pages. I'm so thankful God knew to give me a husband who is a reader also. Often, we're content to just curl up in the family room, and read the evening away.

Just because someone drove me to the library, and let me use up flashlight batteries late into the night. What a gift my mom gave my sister and me - the love of reading. To this day, if I had to choose the contents of my wallet, I'd go with a library card and a little bit of money


  posted at 7:47 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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