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Front Porch: Library Lovers Month
Thu., Feb. 2, 2023
An email announcing February is National Library Lovers Month, prompted memories of my favorite childhood book and my lifelong love affair with libraries.
I blame the library for my unfulfilled longing to live in a house with a turreted room crammed with books and a cozy window seat draped with red velvet curtains.
At 10, I checked out a copy of “The Velvet Room” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I quickly lost myself in the world of Robin, the middle child in a family of migrant workers traveling across California in their Model T during the Great Depression.
When her family finds work on a ranch, Robin is befriended by Bridget, a kindly old woman who gives her a key to an old, abandoned house. There Robin discovers a beautifully furnished library with a window seat. She gathers books, curls up in the window seat, pulls the drapes around her and finds respite from the harshness of her unstable life.
The book captivated me so much, I begged my parents to buy me a copy when I found one at the Scholastic Book Fair. They agreed, but foolishly as a teen, I gave my treasure away to make room for more sophisticated fare.
That email about Library Lovers Month came from Brainly, an online learning platform and homework help community, and it also featured fun bookish words, like the following:
Bookarazzi: A book lover who excitedly takes photos of the books they read and posts them online. (That’s what #bookstagram on Instagram is all about.)
Shelfrighteous: The feeling of superiority about one’s bookshelf.
Readultery: When a book lover cheats on one book by reading another book simultaneously.
Bibliobibuli: Not a “book bully” just a person who reads too much. (Pretty sure there’s no such thing as reading too much.)
While searching for a replacement copy of “The Velvet Room,” I came across the perfect quote from it for Library Lovers Month.
“There was that special smell made up of paper, ink, and dust; the busy hush; the endless luxury of thousands of unread books. Best of all was the eager itch of anticipation as you went out the door with your arms loaded down with books. Libraries had always seemed almost too good to be true.”
I guess I did find the velvet room I longed for as a child – it just wasn’t in a boarded-up mansion. Instead, I discovered it among the shelves, in quiet corners of public libraries.
A recent column about aging household appliances that are still in use garnered the following feedback.
Carla Amparan’s note about her mother’s toaster made me wish I had one just like it.
“My mother married my father around 1945 and one of her wedding gifts was a Sunbeam chrome toaster. It was particularly unique – when you dropped the bread in the slot it automatically went down – very cool,” wrote Amparan. “When I was 22 and moved out she gave it to me. It came with me every time I moved and I still had it even when I got married. I never desired a newer or nicer-looking one. If it ain’t broke….”
The toaster finally died in 1998.
“I almost cried but was in disbelief when I did the math,” she said.
Forget your Keurig, Sally Deranleau’s CorningWare coffee pot has been perking her up for 52 years!
“I still have my electric CorningWare coffee pot that was given to me for Christmas in 1971,” she said. “It’s still perking and the coffee is just as good.”
Kay Kindig got a blender for a wedding gift in the ’60s.
“It’s glass and steel. They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” she wrote. “I use it maybe twice a year, but would be lost without the immersion blender. Maybe a new appliance you should consider?”
Indeed, I have been eyeing an immersion blender since my wedding-gift blender moved to the basement pantry about 20 years ago.
Finally, Erlene Clifton’s Hamilton Beach hand mixer refuses to quit but did get some First Aid from her husband.
“Our longest-lasting small appliance is a Hamilton Beach hand mixer that we got as a wedding gift 53 years ago,” she said. “It did try retiring maybe a decade ago but my husband did something unique. Instead of his usual, ‘time to get a new one,’ he took it apart, gave it a quadruple bypass I guess, and coaxed it back to life. It is like he wants it to last as long as our marriage!”
Cindy Hval can be reached at email@example.com. Hval is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation” (Casemate Publishers, 2015) available at Auntie’s Bookstore and bookstores nationwide.