This past summer I wrote a series of blogs about growing up on a farm. The series was entitled “Tales from the Hayloft.” Many of you commented on the ways in which your childhood influenced your writing or your reading choices as an adult. One of my internet writing buddies did more than that. She sent me a story from her own childhood. I’m delighted to share it with you.
from Elaine Faber, author of the Black Cat series and Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot:
In 1950, I was a first grader in a small rural school. Twice a month, the County Bookmobile visited and children could select a library book! Without today’s modern technology, a book was the doorway to a world of fantasy, imagination and excitement.
The children lined up at the bookmobile door, barely able to contain our excitement until, finally, it was my turn. I looked in awe at the two shelves dedicated to beginning readers and made my selection.
The County Librarian challenged me with the responsibility of caring for library property and tucked a card into the back cover. It was mine for two whole weeks! Triumphantly, I carried my book down the steps and into the shade of a nearby tree.
It was a treasure, sent to me personally by the President of the United States, who owned the County Public Library System and personally sent the red, white, and blue bookmobiles to rural schools, as symbols of truth, justice and the American Way.
I walked home from school carrying my lunch pail, sweater and my precious library book under my arm. One of my companions suggested we take a different way home. The chanting of “chicken” cinched my decision to agree to “our adventure.” Several blocks from home, we came to a PG&E workman’s hole, loosely covered by boards. Our leader pranced across the boards and “double-dog dared” us to follow. I was afraid but I couldn’t defy a “double-dog dare,” could I? I had no choice but to follow him across the wobbling boards.
Fighting back tears, I clutched my lunch pail, sweater and library book, closed my eyes and took a step onto the wobbly boards. Flailing my hands to keep my balance, my precious book tumbled into the darkness and surely, into the pits of hell. Horrified, we peered into the darkness. I could barely see its pages flipping gently back and forth. The hole was too deep, and rescue too challenging for our small minds to comprehend.
I contemplated the outcome of this catastrophe. The President of the United States had personally commissioned the book into my hands and I had failed him…. miserably. Someone was going to jail. I felt sure they wouldn’t put a 7 year old in jail, but, who…? Suddenly it became all too clear. They would put Daddy in jail because I was his kid and somebody had to pay.
At home, I hid in the closet, despite my mother’s pleas. I sat in the dark, crying, imagining the worst. Mama would have to go to work. Everybody would know I was the reason Daddy was in jail.
When Daddy came home, he grabbed me by the collar, stood me up and whacked my bottom, “What the heck is going on?” Daddy always could get to the seat of the problem in about 4 seconds.
I confessed to losing my library book on the way home. (I decided not to mention the part about him going to jail. He would find out soon enough when the library police arrested him.)
Daddy drove me back to the gigantic, monstrous hole that yawned beneath the boards at least 100 feet deep, the hole that had swallowed my precious book, the hole that was the cause of his impending incarceration, and my everlasting shame. He leaned over the yawning cavern, reached his long arm down and…retrieved the book.
Things were easier back then. Daddy could solve life-shattering problems with one sweep of his big hand, or so it seemed, as we drove home, my library book clutched tightly in my hands.
Now, I write the books I hope others will read. Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, and Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot are all available at Amazon in print and e-book.
Black Cat’s Legacy http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm
Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer http://tinyurl.com/q3qrgyu
Black Cat and the Accidental Angel http://tinyurl.com/07zcsm2
Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv
Thanks so much, Elaine, for your delightful story.
Now. blog visitor, it’s your turn. Share something from your childhood in the comments section below, or if you have a longer story that has influenced your reading or writing, let me know and I’ll feature you on my blog.