The Secret of the Abandoned Library
I loved going to the library when I was a child. I loved that I was was able to learn, and hear stories from the librarians. They taught me, as books did, about history and future, family and society, and that there was so much more actual knowledge, waiting to be discovered. It was as if the library (personified) was like a wonderful, loving, old aunt, ready to share her stories of life, adventures, and love.
I looked forward to going back in time to Civil War days and reading about the March sisters and how they turned from four girls into Little Women (author, Louisa May Alcott).
As much fiction is based on historical times, I was learning history, as well as lessons in life by seeing how others lived--societal and familial systems. The relationship with the March girls was what I longed for in my own life with my own three sisters.
I also was drawn to Nancy Drew Mysteries , authored collectively under the pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. They appealed to my curious and creative, inquisitive and analytical nature. I was always more interested in the "how" and "why" of the "who," than the "what" or "where."
Nancy Drew stories taught me about friendship, courage, independence, adventure, and that it was okay to be myself. I preferred those written prior to 1960, as Nancy was characterized as being outspoken, bold, and authoritative. Having lost her mother at an early age, being raised by her lawyer father, Carson Drew, and a housekeeper, it was no wonder that she took on the world.
Though my family situation was different, I clearly can see how I identified with this character and how she may have helped to shape me.
I also identified with one of Nancy's friends, Georgia "George" Fayne, who had short hair, was a bit of a tomboy, and who was bit awkward, yet fearless. Not refined, as Nancy was, George's character depicted a part of me that I never thought I could show--less than perfect. Together, these two fictional friends taught me about who I was and wanted to be, as a female.
The books that came out of the 1960s showed these two characters as less assertive, and quieter. They seemed to be less of what I wanted to be, and I lost interest in the advancing series, though I would reread the earliest volumes many times.
When I was in my 11th year, there was an incident with my father that changed how I viewed libraries, books and learning that I also carried with me throughout my life.
I began to avoid the library, at nearly all costs. The librarians all became crotchety, old females or stern, authoritarian males, who were intent to shush or scold me.
Learning, books, libraries, knowledge. Outspokenness, assertiveness, curiosity, desire. Family, friendship, love, relationship. It was then that my four-decade struggle began.
I was 11-years-old when this, my "special aunt," died the tragic death. A death that I mourned for more than 40 years, along with the abandonment of my sisters and friends I met in my early days.
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(Author's note: My reference to my aunt is not speaking of an actual family member. I used a "special aunt" as a simile to describe my relationship with or to the library.)
© Copyright 2015- Coral Levang - All Rights Reserved
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