Tuesday Treats & Titles: The Librarians

I so totally need to get the Moonstruck Wolf novels ready to publish so I don’t have to keep coming up with something to talk about on Tuesday. Let’s get to today’s treat because we can’t take it with us where we’re going. Did you do the ice cream truck thing when you were a kid? They didn’t really happen in my home town until I was in like Junior High (Middle School for those of you waaay younger than me). It wasn’t often that we bought gallons of ice cream. We churned our own. I don’t remember the truly olden days when the churns were hand cranked. We were all modern and had an electric ice cream maker. It consisted of a bucket made from wood planks. There were brackets on the top where the electric motor slotted in after you attached it to the beater thingy. The ice cream mixture was poured into a metal tube which fit into the bucket. You put the blades/churn/beather thingy in the mix, put on the lid and made sure it was tight because you didn’t want salt water leaking in. The the hole on the motor attached to the rod of the beater. We then packed ice and rock salt in layers around the metal tube, all the way to the top, hence the reason you wanted the lid on tight. The ice would melt and the salt turned the melted water salty. And yes, before the ice cream was down, you’d have to add ice at least a couple of times.

Our local family-owned grocery store stocked some awesome ice cream treats in addition to the ice cream we didn’t buy. Rocket pops. Drumsticks. Dreamsicles. Popcicles. And push pops–the kind your parents bought in bulk at the store. They were just plastic sleeves filled with what looked and kinda tasted like Kool-Aid. You stuck them in the freezer and then cut the top off, and push the concoction up to eat bites off the pop.

What does this have to do with libraries, you ask. Well, I can remember sitting on the front steps of my hometown library finishing off an ice cream treat before going in. No food or drinks allowed inside. To easy to damage one of those magical books. And books were–and still ARE–magical.

My dad propane company was open for a half-day on Saturday. He’d take me to work with him. In the winter, he’d drop me off at the library. The rest of the year, I either walked the 8 blocks from the “store” or if I was lucky and talked him into throwing it in the back of the truck, I rode my bike. I started reading early. Dad said 3, Mother said a bit later, but I read a lot. When I started going to the library, I was very methodical. I started with the A authors in the little kids section. I’d grab a book, read it, put it back on the shelt, read the next and so on. When Dad got there to pick me up, I was allowed to check out 7 books. We brought them all back the next Saturday even though they weren’t due for two weeks. When I finished with the picture books–sometime in kindergarten–I advanced to chapter books and again, started with the A authors and read all the way around the children’s section to the Zs. Then there were no more books. Small town, small library.

The library was a cool place. Yellow brick with tall windows, a circle porch with white columns, so sort of neo-colonial. It was a Carnegie library. One floor, with basement storage. Heavy, wooden double doors at the entrance, a small foyer tiled in small white tiles with a black accent “box.” The floors were wood in the main library. Frpnt and center, like an altar in a cathedral, sat the librarians desk. To the right was the kids section and to the left and back behind the desk was the adults. There was a bookcase right at the front of the adult section where new books were promininantly displayed, first come, first served, but you could put your name on the waiting list after their first check out.

At the age of ten, when I’d run out of kids’ books, Dad had a conversation with Mrs. Lake, the librarian. I should note that I’d also read all the books in Will Rogers’ Grade School’s library by this time as well. He told her that. He asked her to add my name to his card and said I had his permission to check out any book in the adult section. And yes, he assured her that he was positive. The first two books I checked out were Ian Fleming’s “The Spy Who Loved Me” and Mary Stewart’s “The Moonspinners.” No, I was not shocked by the 007 book. I’ was a…precocious child. I’d been stealing peeks at my dad’s Playboy maazines for a couple of years. Sex wasn’t any big deal to me. And yeah, I tended to skip over those parts because…BORING! 🙄 My how times change once we grow up, right?

This is a story I’ve told before so some of you already know it but like I said, I was looking for a topic for today’s post. FYI, that was 1963. After my dad died, in 1995, he had some library books checked out–a couple of Zane Greys, a Louis L’Amour, and an Isaac Asimov. He was an eclectic reader too. Anyway, the books were due so I volunteered to take them back. The library and long since outgrown it’s original building, though the new one had been built just a block away. When I brought the books in, I had to explain that Dad had passed. The current head librarian–a lady whose name I don’t remember–pulled his card. Yes, the cards were still kept in the library–manilla cardstock with typed names and a metal plate with your library number they ran through a machine like the old credit card machines–before electronic strips and chips. She looked at his card and then looked at me, blinked, and said my name, recognizing me finally. She showed me Dad’s card. My name was still on it. I never had gotten my own card there. They always just used Dad’s, even when I was in high school and college.

So anyway. *clears her throat and blows her nose* The library was my magical kingdom. I ate green egs and ham and listened for a Who with Horton. I solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, and the Hardy Boys. I raced with the Black Stallion and Flame, and I went to space with Tom Swift. I discovered Bradbury and Asimov, L’Amour, Stewart, and the classic horror stories. I dueled alongside the Three Muskateers and spirited French nobles to safety with the Scarlet Pimpernel. I went to Middle Earth and Narnia. I visited the worlds of Ursula LeGuin and Andrew Norton. And I fell in love with a certain British spy–of Scottish origina–who had a liscence to kill. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me to love books. Now I’m gonna go eat a bowl of ice cream and listen to a book. The breakfast of champions and dreamers everywhere.

Do you have a favority library story? A fave book from your childhood? Or the one book that you could read over and over if you were stuck on a desert island? And what’s your favorite flavor/type of a frozen summertime treat?

About Silver James

I like walks on the wild side and coffee. Lots of coffee. Warning: My Muse runs with scissors. Author of several award-winning series--Moonstruck, Nightriders MC, The Penumbra Papers, and Red Dirt Royalty (Harlequin Desire) & other books! Purveyor of magic, mystery, mayhem and romance. Lots and lots of romance.
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2 Responses to Tuesday Treats & Titles: The Librarians

  1. There is so much awesome in this post, I’m not even going to try to comment on it all.

    I don’t have a library story. Libraries haven’t been my thing. We lived far enough out in the country that Dad driving me into town to visit the library wasn’t happening. (We won’t even talk about the lack of an ice cream truck.) I went to the school library where we could check out one book a week, as long as we turned in the book from the week before. Mostly, I read the same books over and over. Or I read the few books I had at home over and over – Robin Hood and King Arthur were my favorites. When I got old enough, I started reading Mom’s books. She belonged to that Harlequin subscription service where books would show up in the mail. And the garage sale finds when Dad would bring home boxes of assorted books for Mom. I read a lot of things I probably shouldn’t have from those boxes, lemme tell ya. Then there was the year or two when my oldest brother lived next door and he’d let me borrow as many of his books as I wanted, and he had tons of books. I think it was high school before I started visiting the library regularly. I’d check out as many as they’d let me and tear through them all. Fantasy and SF mostly. And that was the first, last, and only time I was a regular library visitor. Weird for a writer to say that, I know, but it’s true.

    • Silver James says:

      When a library isn’t readily available, its understandable. I’m always amazed how inveterate readers always manage to get their hands on books–by hook or by crook. Mother was into the NYT best sellers. She was always on the list for new books. I consider TSWLM my first “romance” though Moonspinners had romantic elements. Mother later got into the true “bodice rippers” of the time but though I read them, they didn’t really hold my attention. Which seems odd now. LOL

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