Dec. 2, 2019

LOST AND FOUND.

 

Saturday after Saturday, they waited for me.  Some were sitting high- up, above my head, while others lay quietly on their sides, near the floor.  Several wore elaborate gold lettering and appeared older, more fragile.  The ones with aristocratic and noble features almost dared me to touch them….and I did.

As a young child without playmates, I spent most days living in a pretend-playtime world, far-removed from my everyday reality. Not yet old-enough to attend school, I often rode my bicycle on the gravel streets near our rent house just looking at pretty homes, yards with cute animals, gardens with beautiful flowers, and constantly wondering about life. 

Sometimes, because I preferred to stay on-the-move, I would strap-on my metal skates and roll up and down the many sidewalks, pretending to “run away.”

It was shortly after I entered the First Grade at Annunciation Academy that my very-small world erupted into a complete Universe. The day my first grade teacher handed me a public library card, bearing my name, was the very first day  my young life became an endless adventure.

Every Saturday morning, alone, I rode a city bus--across town--to the Public Library.  In the beginning, I was satisfied to visit the children's reading room and explore its many shelves of mostly-picture books. As a fast reader, it didn’t take long to discover my need for fewer pictures and more words. 

Because of my height and confident appearance, most everyone assumed I was older.  I walked past the librarian sitting at the check-out desk-- without hesitation-- and into the crowded shelves of adult reading.

I loved the classics best-of-all....with such authors as Bronte (Jane Eyre), Cervantes (Don Quixote) Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe).  I plowed through Shakespeare and easily enjoyed Louisa Mae Alcott (Little Women) but… nothing touched my heart like Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Later, I must have seen the movie version more than six times.

Today, libraries everywhere are struggling to survive; to be viewed as relevant; to exist for day-dreamers and multiple readers.  In fact, books are no longer important to the young, the restless, and-most importantly-the uneducated.

Supposedly….Technology fulfills everyone's need for dictionaries, encyclopedias, while answering any and all questions. This generation asks “Why read a book when you can watch reality television or dimensional movies and, if you just want to scan the “good parts” of some book… find it as a kindle book on your computer.”

But, in my experience, technology is a poor substitute for the original. Modern devices can’t replace a touch, a feeling, or a smell. Nothing can imitate the anticipation of turning a page...then another page... over and over again. 

I treasure my books. There’s something magical about opening a book from long ago--- flipping through its pages--- then beginning the process of reading from page one to the very end.

As a child, lost and lonely, the library shared its endless books with me. It introduced me to people, families, adventure; it took me across oceans, into jungles, and to mountain tops with far-away castles.

But, most valuable of all, the library books taught me about love and life; books showed me how to love and respect myself.   My books are my forever friends.   Together-- we are happy.