I was an odd little child.
That's not to say I wasn't happy.
I remember my childhood being a happy one, filled with a loving family, a lot of laughter and very good friends.
I also remember being quite content being by myself with a book.
Luckily, my closest friends were understanding and accepted my differences. They remain some of my closest friends today and still refer to me as "Bookworm."
And, of course, since I now live in the south being odd is a badge of honor.
One I wear with great pride.
My parents, however, fretted a bit over a little girl with the nickname "Bookworm."
A little girl who seemed to dwell in a world of make-believe. One who preferred books over dolls, and later in life preferred books over boys.
Both my parents read, but they weren't what most of us would call big readers, and certainly not bookworms. There were books in our home, but we weren't tripping over piles of them like Donald and Harley and I now do in our own home.
Because my parents recognized my love of books at an early age, they introduced me to our local library and it remained one of my favorite places as long as I lived in the small town of Cambridge, Maryland. It also remains the quintessential library in my mind. When I walk into the brightly lit libraries of today they still surprise me a tad. And if I hear people talking loudly I'm surprised when no one behind the front desk says "Shhh." I'm an old fogey in this regard, I'm afraid, and miss the library of my youth. An old brick building with gothic arched windows, and worn wooden floors, tall dark oak book cases, corner nooks and crannies, and massive oak tables and chairs. I remember many an afternoon spent wandering aimlessly in this quiet place and browsing the shelves. There may have been books on those shelves I never got around to reading, but it's doubtful there were many I didn't at least touch.
|The Old Cambridge, MD Public Library. Built in 1939. |
The building was turned over to the City Council in 1974 when
a new library was erected. My thanks to old and dear friend Charles Tinley for the photo.
It was a while before my child's mind grasped that, of course, books are going to be vastly different from one another. Written by authors from a multitude of genres - some to my liking, some not so much. Not every book on those library shelves was written by Carolyn Keene. And so, like every odd little bookworm of a child, my tastes in literature changed and grew but that love of the land of make-believe never ever disappeared. And I'm still spurred into an occasional rant when a book doesn't live up to expectations.
I remember some of the books I happened upon by browsing around the library. One of them was Don Marquis' "archy and mehitabel." It was also one of the first books I remember buying when I became familiar with bookstores.
Reading books was great. But to be able to actually own them?
Wow. A thrill just as powerful today as it was when I first experienced it. What a kick to be able to walk to a shelf in my home, pick up a well-worn copy of "archy and mehitabel" and relive one more time "the song of mehitabel” -
" . . . wotthehell wotthehell
cage me and i d go frantic
my life is so romantic
capricious and corybantic
and i m toujours gai toujours gai"
And that is exactly how I feel about being invited to join the lovely ladies of Jungle Red.
Honeys, I am toujours gai toujours gai.
Reds, thank you so much for inviting me. You've made me feel quite special.
Readers, I'll be here the first Sunday of each month for as long as The Reds will have me. I hope you'll come by and say "Hey!" every month so they won't realize they might have asked the wrong gal by mistake.
In the meantime, I'd like to hear what book you may have discovered at the library when you were younger that you later knew you just had to have in your own personal library. What was your "archy and mehitabel?”
"my youth i shall never forgot
but there s nothing i really regret