Library Magic


The world opened up to me on my first visit to the library the summer before I turned four.  My sister had just finished first grade.  Mother took her to enroll her in the summer reading program, bland enough sounding, as we pulled up to a white clapboard building jus next to Davis’s Barber Shop.  I knew Sandra Davis was in first-grade with my sister, so that was important.  The small library was divided into an adult and children’s room and lined floor to ceiling with shelves.  The picture books were on low shelves under the huge windows of the front room.  I stood there staring, till a tiny, white-haired lady came out from behind a desk, pointed to the shelves and told me, “Choose anything you like.”

I’d never seen such wealth.  We had books at home, but nothing like this bounty.  I’d never thought the world might hold such wealth.  I dropped to the floor and pulled one out.  Seeing little girls at a tea-party, I hastily slid it back in its place, looking for something more attractive.  I rejected a valentine book, a kitty, and an A B C book, I had just settled on a cowboy book when Mother said we needed to go.

“I didn’t get to read my book yet!”  I wailed.

“We can read it when you get home.  Don’t you want some more? You can get three,” she finished.

I’d never been offered more of anything this good.  I was stunned.  “That ol’ woman is gonna’ give me three?”

Mother tried to cover  my “that ol’ woman outburst” the best she could.  She grabbed the te apart, the valentine book, while I handed over my cowboy book.  Miss Temple stamped the little date sticker in the the books, had Mother sign the cards, and we were on our way.  As soon as we got to the car Mother hissed. “”Don’t ever call somebody an old lady again. Or I’ll tear you up.”

“Why doesn’t she know?” I asked.

“Well, if she doesn’t, it’s not your place to tell her.”  She was mad.

As soon as we got home,  Mother read me Rory and Rocky the Cow Pony.  After a couple of readings, I had it memorized.  I had to take back in two weeks, but checked Rory and Rocky out all summer.  I never did read the tea party or valentine books.

19 thoughts on “Library Magic

  1. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the way that library smelled. It was one of my favorite places. When they moved into a new building, they turned it into a psychiatrist’s office…I went to consult with my mother’s doctor there decades later…the feeling was not the same. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, the local library was my favorite place as a child. All those books – and so quiet! I was old enough to walk there by myself (just a couple of blocks away, and we knew every person in every house between our house and the library). I had my very own library card, and I felt so grown up!

    Sometimes, though, I had to argue with the old librarian who thought I should only take out books appropriate for my age. I was a precocious reader and would often pick out recent best sellers rather than the children’s or young adult books. The librarian finally had a chat with my mother, who basically told her that as long as I wasn’t trying to take out porn, I could ready anything I wished. My mother was wise enough to know that if there were any racy parts, I just skipped over them because I didn’t understand them and thought they were boring. Of course, back in the 1950s, few books had those racy parts anyway.


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