These are great questions that take us on trips to our childhood. They are filled with colors, smells, and emotions. They are questions that mix with reality and fantasy as many of us read our way through childhood.
Today while reading posts from other writers I found several who wrote about where their favorite reading place was. Unbidden my mind was off to the apple tree that I created forts in, read books in and ate apples in during the fall, got stung in the spring and loved every minute of it. The orchard belonged to the Children’s Home (think orphanage – Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home or The Annie Wittenmyer Home was its official name) that was four blocks from my house. It was a great place to hide out and read. It had the added adventure that we were not suppose to be there. Private property and the orphanage – stay away! It is where reality and fantasy mixed for me.
I hid among the leaves, I worried while I was reading about being caught and placed in a dungeon below the children’s houses. I was sure there was a mean, old caretaker with a long stick that might catch me some day. My mother would never know what happened to me. I would be gone into the world of lost children. The story goes on…
In reality the Children’s Home had great friendly people. The children lived in small cottages and could be seen playing, reading and enjoying a safe place to be. I even walked over with my mother to get my hair cut once in awhile at one of the cottages. The house mother cut hair to bring in a little extra money.
Where I got my wild ideas about dungeons, and mean old caretakers – who knows?! It must of been all those books I was reading while up in the tree.
As to where I got all those books – that is another story for another day!
The fact of the matter are these:
The Iowa Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home was originally used for orphans from the American Civil War, but starting in 1876, children from broken homes as well as orphans from all of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties were taken in at the home.
In 1949, the facility was renamed “The Annie Wittenmyer Home” by the Iowa State Legislature. In 1960, the focus of the home shifted from that of orphanage to a residential special education and behavioral counseling facility. In 1975, the Wittenmyer Home closed having helped an estimated 12,000 children and provided a century of service.From 1976 until November 2005, the building became a branch of the Davenport Public Library until the new Fairmount Branch was opened in January 2006. (pulled from Wikipedia)