Monday’s Rune: A Memoirish Library Essay


Howdy! And Happy Monday, Y’all.

Since the American government still had an active conscription/draft system, I enlisted during my senior year in high school (1964). I eventually went to college after four years in the U.S. Air Force, which would later result in my first of three closely related “career” choices.

In May of ’66, I married Yolonda. More than half of our first two years together were spent as 20/21/22-year-olds living and working in Ankara, Turkey. I was not sent to Viet Nam. Happy Honeymoon.

I started college in September of 1968, as one of what would become known as Vietnam Era Veterans. I registered as a sophomore transfer from the University of Maryland, Overseas Division.

The Viet Nam War was raging and nearing its high-point years. LBJ was about finished. The Tet Offensive had hardened much more of U.S. public opinion against the war. While not ambivalent, I disagreed with both sides of the argument at that time. I was confused, as were many Americans. I had two short term goals: graduate and get a job. Yolonda was the Brazos County Attorney’s Secretary at the time. Every cop in the county knew her.

We lived in “on campus” student housing. Our “home” was a small one bedroom, one bath, unairconditioned apartment in southeast, central Texas. We eventually bought and installed a window a/c unit.

The campus library was my retreat, a place to read, study, and to people-watch. At the time, everyone exiting the building was forced to have their possessions searched to prevent theft.

One evening, Yolonda waited for me at that library while I was part of a psych department research study. I found her waiting in our car. She asked me if I would know if my penis was exposed out of my pants. She had been cock-flashed by a student employee. The perv got busted, and we’ve been sharing the experience for fifty-plus years. They are everywhere.

I’m writing this while sitting comfortably, sipping coffee, and eating a pastry from my public library’s coffee bar. These days book checkout is on the honor system, and nobody is searched.

I still like libraries. I am not a prodigious reader, although I read every day. Libraries are strangely comforting to me even though everyone has access to the facility, library card or not. Libraries are what they are and do what they do. The same is true of people.

My first library from childhood was in an old, mid-19th century, church building and still is. I also like old church architecture. Maybe there is a reason for my library/church juxtaposition of interest. I recall no pervs in the stacks from back then, but if those books could talk… (wait, we have talking books nowadays.)

Computer stations at the Central Branch of the Osterhout Free Library

It seems like it began for this boomer with the assassination of JFK. My first ten years after high school, the sixties, and early seventies, were a coming-of-age time for me and a tumultuous period in American History.

More than fifty years later, I still like to sit in libraries and write, read, search for books, people watch, and sip coffee. I may ponder what others say or claim. I think about how differently we all see the world and each other.

But at this point in my life, I really don’t give a shite what anyone thinks of me, except for Yolonda and our three middle-aged kids; less so, a few teeny-bopper or early 20s grandkids.

So far, I think I pass muster. Sort of.

Bill


Look both ways for what is right. Arguing does little good.
Mind the gaps lest they become crevasses of civil division.
Find your tribe and take a side. Keep trying to understand.
Support public libraries, not book bans or burns.

Friday Fictioneers for September 2nd, 2022

To slip nicely from the end of sweet summer sweat and August’s heat into September’s pre-Labor Day weekend; her magnificence, Rochelle of the purple addiction, and Wednesday Wonder Woman, has cast a David Stewart late night photo for all to see and to be mused into a fictional tryst for Friday.

If you wish to try a fib, a lie, or you have a story to aspire, click on David’s photo, and you shall flash over to the blog of our magical mistress to learn all her secrets.

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

My tale grew from an effect echoed by a favorite musical afterglow. Fans of the band or the song may glean the tune from the nature of some lines I borrowed.


Genre: Musical Fan Fiction
Title: Programed to Read
Word Count: 100

***

Shimmering lights lit the shed.

Don pointed. “There’s the doorway. Step inside. Say, ‘1969.’ Another door opens to a colitas casino.”

I said, “Gambling’s legal. Why the drama?”

“Libraries are underground since books and music became illegal. Dancing to remember is forbidden.”

I did as he said. I heard happy voices. Such a lovely place with music and books. I asked the librarian, “Could I check anything out?”

She lit a candle and replied, “Such a lovely face. Relax. We are all prisoners here programmed to read. You may check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

***


Look both ways.
Saying it will not happen again doesn’t mean it won’t.
Mind the gaps for fears in the middle of the night, just to hear them say,
“Bring your alibis.”

Click on the Eagles “Hotel California” poster to zip to links for more great flash/micro fiction stories.

***

This is not the Eagles, but cred to their song by buskers Sherlock and Rodrigues. My deep apologies if this YouTube fails you, I don’t know how to tell if it’s banned in Boston, London, or Montreal.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #247 (flummox)

Click on this graphic for Sammi’s blog to participate and to read other 42-word wonders.

 


Taboo to Torched

Frightened by arrogant kens against freedom,
shocked by hubris karens of hyperbole,
flummoxed by fiddling fascist Boards,
saddened as lone librarians dodge discovery,
humbled by youth’s perseverance;
I ponder and cry, with my personal pride,
I stand wondering why, ready to satirize.


 

Look both ways as you war against the lunacy of banned books.
Mind the gaps and detest book burning and the dark side of religious fanaticism.

 

Friday Fictioneers: January 21st, 2022

Endurance swimmer, Mistress Rochelle has placed me in the city library children’s section with a limit of one hundred of my own carefully crafted words with which I must contrive a suspenseful story of escape.

Click on the photo provided by Ted Strutz to buzz on over to Rochelle’s page where “Growing older is inevitable. Growing up is optional.” I considered those options when I wrote the photo-inspired story that follows.

Photo provided by Ted Strutz

Genre: Micro-fiction
Title: The Latte Librarian
Word count: 100

***

Passing through the library’s deserted children’s section, I turned toward the noisy coffee shop.

I set my chai latte and backpack on the counter nearest the women’s table, drank half the latte, then slipped the smoke bomb into the cup. From the men’s room, I called in the bomb threat.

When evacuation was announced, I set off the smoke bomb.

I returned to transfer valuables from each handbag or backpack into mine, then left through the side door just as fire trucks and police cars arrived. I removed the disguise in the car, kissed my partner, and we drove off.


Look both ways to be aware of surroundings.
Notice people and their trappings.
Mind the gaps of their absence.

***

Click on Alec Baldwin’s badge (from 2018 movie, “The Public”) for your library card to read other fine stories.

Sammi’s Weekender #233 (vellichor)

Click on graphic for hyperlink to Sammi’s blog.

Because it was not in my MW online dictionary: John Koenig wrote that the word vellichor, which he apparently created, refers to “the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time…”


Dear Enemy

When Jean Webster
lived, wrote, and died,
grandmother was still alive.
Both lives ended
from new life inside.

My century+ old copy
with stains and library marks
has redolent suggestions
of hidden stacks in bookstores.
Vellichor, the petrichor of paper,
print, and the souls
of past passionate readers.


Look both ways as you hold hundreds of years in your human hands.
Mind the gaps in time as we admire the history of the human mind.