• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Sharing Horizons That Are New To Us

 

lightweight-scarf_library-card_3_1024x1024Spent the day in the library, piles of books, my yellow pad, left the friggin’ phone in the car. It was heaven. What I love so much about library books are the cards tucked into the envelope glued in the back with the dates stamped in: a trail of readers. This physical manifestation of a book being shared, of having its own history, traveling through different hands. In a biography of the Wright Brothers, someone wrote in the margin: yes.

Do you have a library memory?

17 Responses

  1. Betsy, I also was at the library today…and here’s my memory: I got Paul Auster’s new book, 4 3 2 1 – over 800 pages, and only 2 weeks to read it. I asked the strict librarian who checked me out if she could give me an extra week or two, but she said Definitely Not, wouldn’t be fair to the other 75 people waiting for the book. She was a hard-ass. So upon leaving, I got the idea to try the children’s library downstairs, and the sweet librarian changed my due date to the end of March! So you see, it’s all who you talk to in life and who’s making the rules. I try to break them as often as I can. Love, K

  2. I’m afraid I have to report you.

  3. Sure do. A musty, dusty, chalky carrol in the stacks. Windless and windowless. Spines of books beckoning: Pick me, Read me. Finding the find. Index cards to document. My own corner of the world. A long long time ago.

  4. Yes, the library on Central Ave. in Yonkers. It was a modern building, open floor plan, racks and stacks of books, stairs and balconies, sleek lines and big windows. In the days before computers became widely available, I’d walk to the library to do research for class assignments and reports, saving my bus money for a slice of pizza from Carlo’s. I remember finding out all I could about Stonehenge in dusty old encyclopedias and imagining a place so immediate yet ancient and far away. When I went to Salisbury years later, I got up very early and walked to Stonehenge. The town was not yet awake. Horse drawn wagons delivered barrels of ale to the pubs in town. I thought of the walk to the library and reading about a place I dreamed of seeing. In the foggy morning distance, before all the tour buses arrived, I saw tall grey stones in a field, more beautiful and precise than anything I could imagine.

  5. I wanted to be a librarian (among many other professions) since I was about seven. That is when I first heard the word “library”. It was not a usual library, just a collection of the books.
    My Dad’s friend was about to be arrested (we lived in Soviet Union then) and he hid his family library in our room. All five members of my family lived in this small room sharing the kitchen, toilet and the bath with another family.
    I was at school during the day, but at night, I had a ball, reading the best of French Literature from Boris’s library, many in first editions: Honore de Balzac, ‎Guy de Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Stendhal and Gustave Flaubert, with a flashlight under my blanket.
    The library at school could not hold a candle to this library.

  6. I remember moving to Southern California from Memphis in 1959. I was a second grader, and my brother was in first grade. Our mother would take us to the library every two weeks,and we would check out the maximum number of books.

    Our mother had already taught us to read before we ever started school, despite the fact that she worked full time.

    She instilled a love of reading in each of us that still exists today.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. I certainly do. Going to the library (don’t go as much as I’d like nowadays) was The Event of the week for me. I always checked out the limit, and read them all within three to four days, and thus suffered the remaining three to four days, sometimes re-reading just to hold myself over.

    That was a smell I came to love. The dusty, musty odor of books. I remember being excited over the books I chose – every single week. I remember how I couldn’t wait to get home. I remember my strict mother was indulgent on this one thing – I was allowed to read at the supper table. 🙂

  8. “Do you have a library memory?”

    Certainly. Here’s one:

    My father was a career soldier in the US Army. After his final tour of duty in Korea, and again after his tour in Vietnam, he worked some evenings and weekends as a volunteer at the Post Library at Fort Bliss, Texas.

    My brother and I were, naturally enough, army-brats. Whenever we could, we’d get my father to take us with him when he went to do his volunteer work at the library. It was a big, old building in the oldest part of the post. My brother would hang out wherever, I didn’t care, looking at whatever, I couldn’t have cared less, and I would hang out in the military history shelves, where I would spend countless hours browsing books impossible to find in any of the city’s libraries. When it was time for us to leave, we’d take the books we wanted to check out — we could check out ten apiece! — and meet our dad at the front desk, where he did some part of the obscure work dads do.

    Fort Bliss is in El Paso, and later this morning I take an airliner to that city to spend a few days. My mom and dad retired there. It’s a sunny, warm place to live. My dad passed away a couple weeks ago, and this coming Friday is his memorial service at Fort Bliss Military Cemetery. My brother and I will be there, and our mom, too. I don’t remember that she ever came with us to the Post Library, but she always had things to do around the house.

    I need to go pack, and get ready to go.

  9. The Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, Michigan, a 19th century monument to a lumber baron’s philanthropy (along with Hackley Hospital, Hackley Park, Hackley Art Museum…). It was the first time I ever saw those iron-grid floors with the tiny purple glass insets, so that tepid daylight could filter down the windowless stacks. I used to go check out endless piles of boys’ books, the Noel Cantwell and Bronc Burnett series of teenage and young adult sports heroes. It built a love for genre literature that endures to this day; nothing high-minded ever made it into our house.

    Twenty years later, a different set of stacks at UC Berkeley, doing research on the Rajneesh religious community and its takeover of the tiny village of Antelope, Oregon to build the community which was known as Rajneeshpuram. I discovered the entire run of the Rajneeshpuram weekly newspaper on microfiche, and spent weeks experiencing the life and death of a commune in their own words. It was deeply moving that even that little community had been preserved through the work of librarians and archivists, available to one curious person so many years later.

  10. I was in fourth grade and had to complete a research assignment on something scientific. This was way before home computers so the only place to find answers was in the encyclopedia at the library. I had no idea how to use those giant hard-bound books and my parents were too busy working, so one evening after dinner my grandfather took me over to the little local library, helped me locate the right volume, and carry it to a large, communal desk. Then, he showed me how to answer all the questions by copying the information, word for word, onto my paper. I didn’t yet know the word “plagiarism” but I had a feeling I was doing something sort of wrong.
    “I don’t think I’m supposed to do this,” I said. “I think I need to use my own words.”
    “The words in that book are already good words,” answered my clever but hardly academic grandfather. “Just write them down.”
    So I followed his directions and handed in my work the next day. And a few days later the assignment was returned to me, marked by the teacher. It had large, red “A+” scrawled on the front.

    Thankfully, I learned about footnotes before I got to college…

  11. I was assigned to the college library for my first work-study job. The head librarian, a tiny, 80-year old woman, was quite a dictator, but she was terrified of young men– especially, the young, male professors from the Art Department. My job responsibilities included talking to any man, between the ages of 18 and 35, who approached the front desk for information. Alas, no one asked me out, but I quickly learned she was, also, in the habit of squirreling away books in the back office (especially art-related books), deeming them “too valuable” for college students. Since I was talking to these young art professors on a regular basis, I soon mentioned the secret stash of art books.

    The art professors hatched a plan. They would give me a list of books they suspected were in the library. I would check their list against the inventory stored in the back office and report my findings to the Art Department. They, in turn, would submit a requisition to place those books on the Restricted Use Shelf – which would allow anyone to access the books while in the library. She was both furious at, and mystified how, the Art Department had discovered her secret inventory. She confided to me that she suspected the Purchasing Office was involved in this intrigue.

    I transferred to another job, the following year, in fear of losing my library privileges.

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