“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”
Last spring I had a chance to go back to Toulon, Illinois where our family lived until I was 10 years old. My father, Fred Vicini, had been a teacher at what was then, Toulon High School. Today it is known as Stark County High School. We were there to celebrate a very special birthday for long time family friend, Mary Hampton, as well as spend time with another special family friend, James (Jimmy) Nowlan. Prior to the party there was one very extraordinary place I had to go back and visit which was the Toulon Public Library. Are you surprised?! Unfortunately it was a Sunday so I was unable to venture inside. I remember as a child spending a great deal of time going through their collection of books. When I was old enough to ride my bike there I would spend stretches of time inside this very special building. I would check out the maximum amount of books, put them in my satchel, and hurry home to read! I’m not quite sure of the name of the librarian – too many years have gone by – but I think it was Ms. Ella Silliman. Even though the name might not be correct, she made a lasting impression on me because she never rushed me out of the library.
Here’s a picture of the Toulon Public Library. When my Mother, sister, brother, & I stopped by the old library, childhood memories came flooding back to me! Most importantly what immediately came to my mind was a collection of books I would continually check out. It was an old series of biographies which had orange covers and was called, Childhood of Famous Americans. I was particularly fond of the book, Louisa Alcott: Girl of Old Boston by Jean Brown Wagoner. For some reason I was enamored with her life story which would eventually lead me to read many of her books, such as Little Women. After so many years I finally obtained a copy of Louisa Alcott: Girl of Old Boston! It is fondly displayed on our desk in our reading room. I love that I have a bit of my childhood out on display to share with my family and friends.
Just a simple old book generates so many special memories for me. I’d like to pose some questions to you since its National Library Week this week. Do you remember your childhood librarian and public library? What is that one book for you that will elicit a warmhearted remembrance from your own youth?