August 11, 2010


I confess I never read Winnie the Pooh” until I was an adult. But I did read “Now We are Six” by Milne when I was about eight or nine. I was in elementary school and I remember the librarian, a woman who looked like the actress Claire Bloom, put the book in my hands.   

To be honest, we didn’t have books at home. If I was read to as a child, I don’t remember it. My mother spoke broken English and when my father got home from work, he read magazines like ”Field and Stream” or publications from the NRA. 

The school librarian noticed my lack of background and took me under her wing. Each time I returned a book, she’d suggest another. Her selections weren’t conventional so I never caught up on the children’s classics. I did read “Moby Dick” I remember and “The Last of the Mohicans” and lots of books by Robert Lewis Stevenson. I loved her suggestions and lived in giddy anticipation of the next as if it were a Christmas present. Because of her, I became an avid reader. I would run to the library every afternoon when school was out. By then, my mother had divorced my father and worked in a Mexican delicatessen. She didn’t get off work until five. I spent time with the librarian until the library closed at four; then I’d sit on the school steps until my mother came for me. It was a lonely wait but the books kept me company. 

I shall always be indebted to the woman who set me on the path of reading. She gave me a window on the world and probably changed my life. I feel certain she did.

Will Rogers, the American humorist,  is supposed to have said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” I wish that was true for me. It’s not. But it is true for how I feel about librarians.