In my mind, it’s Saturday, September 11, 1964. My family had just moved into base housing on Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas. Dad had my little brother and me got in our beautiful metallic turquoise 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 car. Our destination was the base library. We have set off on a short drive to get my brother and me our first library card.
The librarian was unlike anyone I had ever met or seen. The kids called her the "bun lady." She wore the stereotypical hair in a bun. She kept her spectacles on a chain, infrequently wearing them. Her work uniform was a long covered up dress. She always had a worried expression. Her right arm had a nervous twitch where her hand frequently jerked toward her mouth and the pointer finger extended across her lips to signify "Shush!" It seemed "shush" was the most common word she spoke.
The "bun lady" gave us a tour of the library. We had the Dewey Decimal System explained. We visited the book stacks with the children’s, science fiction, history and biography books. She showed us the location of the "necessary rooms" as she called them in case we should need to do what all people do, but rarely admitted to doing, especially back in 1964.
I remember dad had us walk back to our house from the library. He made sure we knew the way home and made it safely.
We visited the library several times a week. It was a twenty-minute walk to the library. We always had adventures en route to the library, but not so much on the trip home. We couldn't wait to get back to the house. At home, we could dip into the exploits between the book’s covers. Mother always had hours of quiet time after we returned with books.
I still remember how hush-hush the libraries were back then. It seemed all speech ended at the door. There were no computers in libraries in the 1960's. No one was sending text messages or taking pictures on a cell phone. I can still hear the swishing of card catalog drawers being opened and closed, the squeak of the book cart's wheels announcing the slow but sure restocking of shelves. They were some of my favorite sounds.
I recall all those book spines announcing the titles covered with the plastic covers. I would walk down the aisles looking, gawking. I would dream of my name being there - someday.
Suddenly, there they were. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine. I think I heard Handel’s Messiah’s Hallelujah Chorus when I found these books. I started reading both. I have been a fan of Bradbury and science fiction since that time.
I checked the books out. I still remember the "bun lady's" pencil. It had a little stamp thingy attached to it instead of an eraser. There was a pocket glued in the front of the book. In it was a card. She took the card out of the pocket. Next, she wrote my name down on that card stamping it with the due date. She filed it away. She then stamped the due date on the slip of paper inside the pocket glued to the front page of the book. I had the books for two weeks. Two adventurous weeks!
At home, I would retire to my bedroom and read for hours. In my mind, I would be it the cupola orchestrating the lights of the town turning off at night. I would experience the rocket winter of traveling from Ohio to Mars.
I journeyed to all those places for free in books. The base library became a favorite destination for me. Libraries are still a place of refuge and solitude for me and hundreds of military brats.
I wrote my first published article in the library at The University of Texas at Arlington in 1974. On a rainy September afternoon in 1981 at Emory University's library in Atlanta, Georgia I wrote the first draft of my first professional magazine article sale.
While today the Internet may bring information into my home, the library is still the sacred shrine for me and many writers. I was in the Los Angeles Public Library and the UCLA library a few years ago. I could see the Ray Bradbury of the 1940s inserting a quarter for another 30 minutes of typing in the pay typewriter. Those still existed when I was in college and seminary.
Nearly a decade ago I was in the Vicksburg, Mississippi Public Library and learned that Winston Groom (author of Forest Gump) was there researching a book on the Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War.
Just last week I watched a video by Joanna Penn. She was showing where she writes in the London Public Library. She said this was the very spot where Charles Dickens wrote as well as Agatha Christie.
I still smile when I reflect on that Saturday in September 1964 when I got my first library card. I still have a library card. The library along with a bookstore are my favorite places to escape the world. I believe the library still holds a key role for the writer.
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Final Ride, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with retired Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns. "Slider," her historical short-story, won Honorable Mention in The Saturday Evening Post's Great American Fiction contest and is published in their 2016 Anthology.
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