I have lived in the Verde Valley for 20 years, before that retiring from the Phoenix Police Department, subsequently having a heart transplant 22 years ago.
I am pleased to share my very first Library experience, which had a direct relationship to my publishing five novels and six children’s chapter books in later life. My greatest measure of personal writing success was being selected as a Keynote speaker at the 2015 Cottonwood Author’s Forum.
Ironically, there are some parallels with Babe Daley’s experience.
Living in a very small town in Louisiana, I was raised by a single Mom. I was the oldest of four children, being as poor as dirt. The school I attended was grades 1 thru 12, about 400 children all told.
It was extra hard, both scholastically and socially, for most of the people were of French descent, speaking a French dialect. We had to learn quickly in order to survive. My life changed forever when my second grade English teacher saw something in me, giving me special attention. I didn’t like the complexities of English, but I liked words and stories.
She was a large kindly woman, who one day after school took me by the hand and introduced me to our one room Town Library and the Librarian. She explained to me that in this little room was the key to the World and my future. And all I had to do to open it was to read the books.
She knew I had seen a cowboy movie and was fascinated by the West. Therefore, she presented me with my first library book, a Zane Grey western. I read all of his and subsequently countless other westerns, expanding to other genres.
The librarian would smile when she saw me coming, knowing I would be checking out several at a time. I was her best customer! Had it not been a free library, I would have read none of them. Only the affluent could afford to buy books back then!
By virtue of all this reading, when in eighth grade, I scored the highest I-Q of anyone at the school ever, the equivalent of 1.2 years of college! And I always had a vivid imagination. It was my escape from the poverty and many hungry days and cold nights!
Therefore, I will always love the librarian and that teacher, both long dead. I consider a Library to be the keystone of every community, the securer of our knowledge for the present and the future!
I praise the visionary government who voted to build this new library, amidst much criticism. As this representative of ‘faith in the future’ towers above the Town, the doomsayers will soon recognize its value to the entire community, and be as proud as those who supported it! I think it will draw businesses which are sorely needed.
Kudos to those who hung in there!
Thanks for listening!