#SOL2015 18/31 Finding Books and Places to Read

Slice of Life logoWhere did you find books as a kid? Where was your favorite reading place?

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) 


I loved that part of the facility became a library which my Mother used in her later years of life. 375px-Iowa_Soldiers'_Orphans'_Home

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Reading, Reflection and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to #SOL2015 18/31 Finding Books and Places to Read

  1. I feel like I still imagine terrible things like that. I don’t know if I had a specific favorite place, definitely not one that exciting! I never got to do this, but I have always dreamed of having a window seat, with a big soft cushion, and curling up in the window. Maybe this is why I like to perch near windows when I read…
    I was a weird little kid.

  2. lynnjake says:

    I grew up in Iowa and even spent time in Davenport, but I didn’t know that a place like this actually existed. It actually sounds like a good place for kids who needed help. So interesting that you hid out and read there!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Where in Iowa and where in Davenport? How funny. Yes, there were lots of homes like this for a long time but they closed in favor of placing children in safe homes to create a family.

  3. Raivenne says:

    Where did I get books as a kid is an easy answer – either directly from a teacher once I surpassed the required the reading materials of the curriculum for my grade, or from the library. My favorite reading place then was anyplace I could read in which no one bothered me. As my hiding places were discovered, I moved to a new place. As an adult, surprisingly my favorite place to read is on the subway as I commute. I’m my own captive audience, with nothing else to do until I reach my destination. I plug in my iPod to drown out the din around me and I can get as lost in my reading material as I desire. That’s at least ten hours of reading every week. It’s perfect.

  4. jhaworthoy says:

    Loved this. Not only because I spent many summers in Keokuk, Iowa (where my mother was from) but because your writing was full of pictures. I could picture you in your fort eating apples and reading…or your mother taking you to get your hair cut….or your thoughts about scary caretakers. Maybe it was the books that sparked your imagination…you sure have developed it. I used to like to read outside too…my sister stayed inside…and I liked it in my lean-to that I made by the creek out back. We always had books…and how grateful I am that we did. So glad I found your blog again. There are so many slicers now…and I find it difficult to get through everyone.

  5. alwriting says:

    Thank you for taking me to this special reading place. The images you created are strong. It is easy for me visualize. This is a piece to be shared. The reading lives of adults should be shared with today’s kids. Reading is not just for school, it is for everywhere- and any time.

  6. wahooteacher says:

    Your slice reminded me of my favorite reading places as a child. I spent many wonderful days reading under a shady tree at my grandparents’ house or in the swing in my backyard. I also appreciated the information about the Children’s Home-I learned something new:)

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