Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Oh, How I Love Librarians!

"Marian the Librarian" is a pretty funny song from the show The Music Man.  Remember the ending lines?

But when I try in here to tell you, dear
I love you madly, madly, Madam Librarian...Marian
It's a long lost cause I can never win
For the civilized world accepts as unforgivable sin
Any talking out loud with any librarian
Such as Marian.....Madam Librarian.

I actually knew a librarian named Marian.  And I was afraid of her--even though I never once entered her library.  She was the mother of one of my high school girlfriends and was also the librarian for a neighboring high school.  She was always nice to me--but that was irrelevant.  Throughout my adolescence the parents of my various girlfriends terrified me.  I was certain they could see right into my evil soul, view like sick movies the sordid stories unspooling in my imagination, read on my sweaty brow my carnal intentions, could ... you know ...

But I've otherwise had invariably wonderful experiences with the librarians in my life, from earliest childhood through this week.  I'll tell a few stories the next couple of days--just to give you an idea ...

Carnegie Public Library, RIP
Enid, Oklahoma
Okay, I was afraid of the librarians at the old Carnegie Public Library in Enid, Oklahoma, the first library I remember.  They brooked no nonsense, those prairie women (yes, all women), and since I had little to offer but nonsense, there were bound to be "issues."  But they were silent ones.  Silence reigned in that old library (razed in 1972--see my Kindle book about that library and numerous other things--Link: Turning Pages: A Memoir of Books and Libraries and Loss), and I was not about to Break Silence and bring down upon me the wrath of the goddesses.  Their sharp shussshhing was like a knife between the ribs, not that I know what that feels like.

Mr. Hickok--with elven ears?
They also acted as arbiters of taste.  My older brother, Richard, once had to go home to get permission from Mom and/or Dad (I'm guessing it was Dad) to check out I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane, which had a naughty cover and some naughtier language inside.  I remember fearing that they would not allow me to check out, oh, some children's biography of Wild Bill Hickok and even trembled a bit until she, looking over the rims of her glasses, clucked her tongue.  But stamped the due date.  Could I hear her sigh as I turned to leave?  The sigh and sign of resignation and despair for the Youth of America?  I think so.  Reading books about someone named Wild William!  Really!

When we moved to little Hiram, Ohio, in 1956, the Portage County Library still had a Hiram branch in an old house near the "downtown" (if you know Hiram, you'll understand the quotation marks).  It's now a private home--and seemed like one back then, too.  Regular rooms with lots of books.  My older brother worked there while he was in high school.  I used to help myself to some of his pay, which he foolishly kept beneath the little serape he draped over his dresser.  The bulge was a giveaway.  I saw to the takeaway.  A dollar here, a dollar there.  Every little bit helps. I remember one book I took out of that library, Henry Stanley's How I Found Livingstone,1872, a book I read because I'd seen on TV that old (1939) movie Stanley and Livingstone with Spencer Tracy.  It was from that book, by the way, that I learned the reply to the famous Dr. Livingstone, I presume?  The Dr. answered, Yes.

The Hiram Schools Library comprised some bookshelves up in front of the study hall.  Mrs. Alma Cook, a sweet woman (with nary a touch of Enid-Carnegie disapprobation about her), worked up there, organizing, checking out books, reminding us nicely when they were two years overdue, maintaining such order as she needed to (things were far less rowdy in Hiram High School than in the high schools I see in the movies these days--and movies don't lie, right?).  From that library I checked out and read what were probably the first "adult" books (no, not that kind) in my life: Martin Eden and Moby-Dick and--okay, I was still socially and psychologically retarded: The Iron Mistress, a Paul I. Wellman novel about Jim Bowie, a novel that has a sweet description of a thrown Bowie knife hitting a guy in the back of the head ...

BTW: I see today on ABE that you can get a signed copy of The Iron Mistress for $225!  Better snap that up!

IRON MISTRESS (signed)-see seller's description

No comments:

Post a Comment