#SOL2015 19/31 Where did you find books?

Slice of Life logoYesterday I wrote about reading places -at least one of mine as a kid. The other question that went along with that thinking was “where did you find books as a kid?”

I know the question could be answered simply – city library or the school library but for me I remember it differently. Now memories are funny things and I find they often tell stories so who is to know if I remember correctly or not. At any rate – yesterday when I was thinking about where I read I realized that it was also important to me where I got my books.

Yes, I have the usual spot of the school library. It was on the second floor of my elementary school half way down the hall. It had double doors that opened into a large room full of light and books. The check out desk and picture books were to the left with small round tables and the stacks of chapter books and non fiction were to the right. The non fiction section, we called it the research section had large rectangular tables with heavy wooden chairs. The place was always silent. The librarian did read to us when we came once a week and then we sat in our assigned places to read the rest of the time. It was a holy place for me. School was hard and I could breath in this space of books and light.

This was only one of the places for books in my life. There were books in my brothers room, and the family/TV room ( although the black and white TV didn’t work most of the time). These books were “adult books”. Books that I was always told were to hard for me. So of course they were the places I would slip into to read bits and piece of books before I would get caught and chased away, especially from my brothers room. In those places I found books by James Thurber, Ernest Hemingway, Mad Magazine and other classics.

Then there were the books hidden on the high top shelf of my Grandfathers farm house. These books were placed there by my two Aunts who were school teachers. The books were to high to reach and so you just stared. We read the titles over and over again wondering about the stories inside them. Just before leaving the farm for the hour and half drive home we would be go quietly up the steps with one of the Aunts and she would ask which title we wanted. You had to be ready or they picked one for you. Its tricky picking books by title only but in truth I think any of them would have been great reads.

They also had books in case in the sitting parlor on the main floor of the house. It was a book case with glass doors on each shelf. It wasn’t until we could prove ourselves as good readers that we could open those precious doors and check out books from there. They had their own card system and pockets in the books for signing them out. There was no time limit for when books were due back because we were never sure when we were returning to the farm but if you did not return the book you received a letter of reminder from one of the Aunts asking about its return.

Another place to pick books was the large public library downtown. A place we did not visit often. It was for us the research library. The place you go when you needed to write a report. It was a special trip downtown and one of honor to walk up the marble steps and into the great halls of books. The smell of polished oak railings, rows and rows of high shelfs and dusty books. There was a sound of the pneumatic tube that sent messages off to the hidden shelfs on the top floors. The floor only the library staff were allow to walk among the hallowed books. images

We were also blessing with a book mobile that traveled the city every few weeks. We could walk to this large van to choose reading materials. This traveling library was noisy, a bit moldy and always imgrespacked with folks checking out books. Now just a forgotten truck.

The last place my mind goes to is the garage of a fellow church member. I know a bit of an odd place and I am sure the books were not there for me but I read and look at them any way. This generous man knew we were a family of three kids and a mom. He was there to help in little ways. A treat at the drug store (think soda fountain). His home was on the way to the apple orchard I like to read and play in. At some time he shared with me that the small door to the garage was always open. Inside that door on a hook was a purse with treats and a bit of money if we were ever in need or in trouble. Who know what kind of trouble he thought I might get into – I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10. In this garage there were a few books. I can’t tell you the titles or why they were there. I just knew in my life you could go almost anywhere and someone had a book that could be read.

Where did you find books to read? images-1

Funny, I just realized there were no book stores in my childhood thinking -very odd indeed.

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About Joanne Toft

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

8 Responses to #SOL2015 19/31 Where did you find books?

  1. Ramona says:

    So fun to read about all the places where you found books as a child. We had a wonderful public library. My best friend and I walked there several times a week during the summer and checked out the maximum number allowed (8) each time we visited. Aunt Nan and Uncle Jim had Reader’s Digest Condensed books at their house.

  2. Jen says:

    I enjoyed reading about the places where you found books.The public library was (and still is) a favorite place to visit. I remember many trips with my Mom where we stocked up on books and that is one of my favorite memories! Bookstores didn’t become a source of books until I was probably in late elementary/early middle school and online retailers didn’t exist:) Mom also subscribed to several book clubs for me, from which I got so many wonderful books.

    • Joanne Toft says:

      We did get a children’s magazine for a short while but did not get books we owned except from my Aunts. I use the book store all the time – buying, researching and wondering with tea. I can’t imagine now not having a books store to go to.

  3. lynnjake says:

    When I was little, my grandma took me to the library. I was an early reader and the librarian always tried to control what books I read, telling me that the ones I wanted were too hard for me. I remember my randma looking at me and asking me if I could read the book I wanted. I said I could, and she had me read a little out loud to her. My grandma looked at the librarian and said,” I guess it’s not too hard for her.” I loved it that she stood up for me like that! Thanks for sharing your book sources. They are very vivid!

  4. isbergamanda says:

    I don’t really remember reading much as a kid. My family always told us kids to go outside and play. My brothers and I were tree climbing and fort making experts. I finally had a reading tutor in second grade and I remember getting to pick out and take home free books through the program we were in. Then in fourth grade I became addicted to Goosbumps and read my way through all of the RL Stine books at the school library and officially became a bibliophile!

    -Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/2015/03/19/giving-a-diy-neti-pot-a-try-sol19/

  5. Tara Smith says:

    Books enter our lives in so many ways – I’ve always been partial to the Bookmobile.

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