About Katie: Having arrived in time for the Great (?) Depression, WWII, and all other 20th century problems, I am endowed with long and varied memories. Writing classes have long been my home away from home. Other people's stories are fascinating, and sharing is growth at its best. Hope you seniors will join me with your stories. Try it. You'll like it.
I received one of those little yellow cards in the mail recently. It's a pretty color and a good eye-catcher. On the left side is a black strip with the word 'LEVY' in big letters. They added the date, 'Nov 3'. On the back is listed all kinds of information to entice you to vote for a small increase in your taxes to support 21 libraries across Snohomish County.
Well, some people will not think it is so small, and vote against it. That leaves me a little sad and reminds me, once again, of Mae Kearney and the other Bolton.
After many months of travel, I was just getting started...in school, in a new neighborhood, in making friends. It was a lonesome and somewhat scary time. A neighboring mother took me along with her own daughter to return some books at the local library.
I had never been to the big grey stone building at the top of the hill. Parking was not readily available, so we had to walk, then cross the busiest street in our part of town. There was a wide grassy island in the middle of the street, with a huge statue of Christopher Columbus in the center of the block. I would learn what was common talk in town--that if you could survive crossing to the island, you had a good chance of making it to the library. We made it, and a whole new world opened up for me.
I still remember the musty smell, the dark silence, the rows and rows of bookcases. And the big heavyset lady with the funny glasses, at the desk. She told me I couldn't take any books home. She was very kind about it, but explained what I had to do first. In my town, if somebody wanted to sign up for a library card, they had to own their own home. That left me out. We had just moved to a town my mother did not like, and no house would be bought. We were renters.
But I had seen the books. And the stereopticans, with pictures of faraway places. I went home and cried on my Dad's shoulder. I put on a pretty good act. Somehow, I was going to get that library card.
My father contacted a friend. His wife was a teacher, and they owned their own home. Mr. Kearney said he would talk to Mae, his wife. He was a disabled veteran, and it was her house. She came through for me, and the next time the neighbor had to return books, I had my card. When the lady at the desk saw my name she smiled. "My name was Bolton too," she said.
For the next twelve years, I practically lived at the library. The big lady became my best friend, and had books picked out for me every time I arrived. Long before I was of the right age, I was invited into the adult section, where I devoured far more than I ever learned in school.
Wherever I lived, it became a lifelong habit. When I married, one of my first orders of business was to acquire my own home so I could have a card, not knowing I didn't need one in my new community. I quickly dragged my new husband along. When he needed information for something he wanted to build or repair, we found it at the library. My children were taken early for indoctrination and fantasy fun. And when we retired and bought a motor home, I looked to local libraries for any information we needed along the many ways we traveled.
When she was over 100 years old, I finally got around to saying "Thank you, Mae," for the best gift I was ever given. I will say it again on November 3rd. Nine cents on every thousand dollars is a very small price for what I have been given. Over and over and over again, for eighty years. I hope everyone else will do the same. Some things are worth every penny.