About Me

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Davison, MI, United States
I am a middle child,born to middleclass parents.Two older brothers,one younger sister.I am married,and have 3 children, Elizabeth who is married and has 3 little boys. She is lucky enough to be able to stay home with them. Her husband, Alan is a Dr. of Physical Therapy. Jonathan who is single and has just finished college and is still trying to figure out life. Katherine, who had a brain tumor and died at the age of 11, 18 years ago.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Every Book Is A Children's Book If The Kid Can Read-Mitch Hedberg

Every book is a Children’s book if the kid can read! - Mitch Headberg

One of my earliest memories was walking to the library in Lapeer. From my house to the library was ten blocks and it also meant crossing Nepessing Street, which was the main street in downtown Lapeer.  It had a lot of traffic and there was not light anywhere along the stretch to the library that was convenient to a little kid. I am probably talking about eight or nine years old when I first started going to the library without an adult. Of course, I usually had my sister (two years younger) to haul along with me. Sometimes I would have the wagon so we could haul our books home in it. However, my sister usually would want to ride in it and I did not want to pull my sister. I just wanted to go to the library. Almost every time we went, she would tell me that she was going to run away if she didn't get her way and I would have to chase after her or bribe her with a promise of candy from the North End Store; or I would threaten her with something awful like the fact that I would hide her doll, Flossie (named after "Big Grandma" as opposed to "Little Grandma", but that is another story). I could also threaten to hide her “blankie”.  My sister carried a “blankie” for much too long.  It was really just a rag of the original blanket.  On the way there and on the way back to our house, we had special spots that we tried to always s stop at.

First, we would stop at the Monroe Street Methodist Church (our church) and sit on the front steps.  They were steep and made out of cement and had that old iron pipe for the stair railings. The double doors went into the small vestibule where bell rope hung.  My dad got to help ring the bell when he ushered. It took more than one person to pull the rope. I preferred to sit on the steps that were around on the side. They were much wider and there was a covered porch, so if it was cold or rainy, we could get warm and dry off. Those doors went into a big area with Sunday school classes that went off on all sides of the room. The stairs to the basement went off that room and led down to the kitchen, more classrooms and the catacombs where the teens had their classes.

Of course, if Vickie, Marybeth or Danny and the other neighborhood kids were out,then we would have to stop and play for a few minutes.

The next stop was one of two places, because we would stop at both, either coming or going. The Episcopal Church had a lovely goldfish pond and we would watch them swim around. These were big goldfish, giant goldfish the size of a carp. The tradition of stopping here was started by our neighbor Marie, who went to the Episcopal Church and told us about the pond.

The other stop was at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. We would take a seat on a stone bench next to the church and say hello to Mary, Jesus’ mother. There was a statue of Mary surrounded by a small garden.  I’m sure it was there for reflection, but I always felt guilty if I didn’t say hello and touch her. Of course, you weren't supposed to touch Mary if you weren’t Catholic; at least that is what one of my friends told me. I usually did it anyways.

Occasionally, we would stop at the Post Office at the corner of Monroe Street and Nepessing Street. That meant that we were supposed to mail something for my mother or we were to get stamps .and they needed to be commemorative if possible. My dad was a stamp collector and he specialized in several different types. He collected everything, but U.S. Commemoratives were always his favorites. If he knew a new stamp was coming out, he would send a self-addressed envelope to wherever the stamp was going to be issued and get the envelope stamped with the new stamp. That is called a First Day Issue. He would collect First Day Issues that had beautiful professional illustrations on the envelope. Then he started drawing and painting his own illustrations on the envelope to be mailed back to him. He also collected full sheets, and corners of sheets. So, we might be picking up any of those, or just getting stamps for mama or buying stamps for our savings bonds books. Those were books that you would purchase enough stamps and then you would get a savings bond issued to you. We would also check out the wanted posters to see if we recognized anybody. The lobby of the Post office had a wonderful echo effect because of the marble flouring and walls. Downstairs, there were other government offices, like the draft board.

Finally, the library; it was an original Carnegie Library and is now an historical site. It is now called the Marguerite deAngeli Branch Library, after the local author who became famous for the children's books that she wrote. Locally, her most famous book was named Copper Toed Boots. It was all about Lapeer and the lives of some boys and the many adventures they had. The story took place in my neighborhood and her former home was just a few blocks away.
Children had to go to the side of the library and go down some stairs to get to the door we were allowed to go in. There was an area to hang our coats and boots, the bathrooms and the librarian's office. If it was Saturday, then there was story hour, so we would sit down to listen  and then go looking for books. As I got older, I decided to read every book in the Children’s Department. I started at a bottom shelf and worked my way up the shelves. I would get a stack of books, go to my table and read through them. Then I would go back and get another stack. Eventually I would pick out what I was going to check out, always hoping that I didn't have a fine that needed paying. If I did, then there would be no books for me. I was notorious for forgetting to return a book.  

However, the library experience was not a “just pick a book and head home kind of a thing for me. I would spend hours there. It was the atmosphere, the big wooden tables, the large Windsor chairs; and of course the card catalogue which was a work of wonder to me. It was huge and made out of heavy wood. I suppose it was almost like a precursor to the computer. You could look up anything and then it would tell you where to go to find a book on the subject. I thought it had everything you could think of in it. As you looked around the room you would see book illustrations framed and hanging on the walls above the book shelves, stuffed birds, other artifacts like an Indian headdress, a huge turtle shell, a hornet nest. There were posters about books. There were giant rocks that had crystal formations. There were portraits of the presidents, Marguerite deAngeli and  
a few other famous people.

When I became older, I volunteered at the library as part of my girl-scout troop learning how to repair books that came back in poor condition. I would help repair the bindings. I also got a merit badge.
I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade when the librarian told me I was too old and that I was now allowed to go to the adult books upstairs. There were two sets of stairs but I took the narrow set up and then I fell in love!  There was no limit of how many books you could check out at one time. It was always a delicate balance between what I wanted to take home and what I could carry, if I didn’t have the wagon. When I finally got my Schwinn two-wheeler, I had my dad put the baskets on my bike that my brothers had used when they delivered newspapers.The front one was huge, and there were baskets on each side of the bike and they could hold a lot of books. The only problem was weight distribution. You had to be careful, or you might tip over, spilling out the load of books.

As you can tell, my love of books started very early and has only increased over the years. I often wonder what would have happened to me if I didn’t have that library. It was my haven, my safe spot, my home.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we live so fully as those we spent with a favorite book-Marcel Proust

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