Yon Walls, 2015
Welcome readers to the late Autumn Issue of Spicyletter! I’m excited about this issue especially since it includes an amazing interview with author Rosa Martha Villareal. She’s an author to keep track of and I loved talking to her about her latest book. There’s also more writer craft talk and a new favorite passage in Fiction Portmanteau. Also, stayed tuned for the upcoming New Year interview with novelist Opal Palmer Adissa. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Libraries for many are sanctuaries; places we can still go to commune with books even though these days we can access library databases in the palm of our hands through internet technology. Recently I experienced the miracle of a distinctive library traveling to my hometown of Owensboro, Kentucky for a family reunion and celebration of my Mother’s 75th birthday after over 30 years. Many of the sights and sounds and people were as I remembered them through adolescent eyes before relocating to San Francisco, California in the 70’s.
After my arrival and embrace of the exhilarating reunion and re-connections with branches of my family, I ventured out during some nippy, beautiful, balmy autumn days, to see some physical places of the town. With a population of approximately 60,000 residents, the town is coined the Barbecue capitol of the United States. It’s one of Former President Bill Clinton’s favorite places when he gets a taste for the savory grilled meats. Having only fish and chicken on the menu for many years, I relished every piece of the various Barbecued meats offered! It was truly a taste of my childhood. The town is also known for its various Bluegrass festivals and burgeoning theater arts community. The town was incorporated in the early eighteen hundreds well before the Civil War, is the place of the last public hanging in the United States and is the birth home of actor Johnny Depp.
My visit to the town library with my Mother and Aunt (two sisters) proved to be an adventure that I least expected. Established in 1913, the new library building was completed in 2007. The library has a circulation of over 197.000 books (not including audio & DVD) and over 46,000 digital books. The exterior of the majestic limestone structure is wonderful to explore and is one of the most impressive library entryways I’ve ever seen. It’s massive archway extends from one front side of the building to the other. It appeared almost like a modern fossil of mysterious origin. Upon entrance to the foyer, there’s a whimsical multicolored glass-paneled mobile that reflects light. One of the nearest walls to the entry is stenciled with a quote by Constantin Brancusi. It reads:
Architecture is inhabited sculpture.
The quote seems so fitting for the personality of the structure. Quotes continued from one floor to the next connected by delicious ornate staircases. I loved re-meeting John Keats– a classical poet that always reminds me that the mind is delicate and has many chambers. His words resonate:
Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by someone I do not know.
I also felt a twinge in my heart when reading a quote by Kentucky native Loretta Lynn:
When something is bothering me, I write a song that tells my feelings.
The sparkly well-built new structure with something classic was also surprising. I loved exploring the shelves for vintage film titles with my Aunt and specifically titles with Joan Crawford (one of her favorite actresses) that aren’t easy to find anymore. My Aunt mused the shelves to find one her favorites with Crawford and Jeff Chandler made in the 1950’s. I couldn’t help but to think: how could any library be complete without seasoned patrons like my mother and aunt perusing the shelves. The library also promotes a program in genealogical research with specialized assistance and a monthly book club.
As our leisurely adventure unfolded, I was reminded of the importance of town libraries everywhere; libraries big or small that house a common history, current understandings of the surrounding world and infinite windows into the human imagination. Libraries like knowledge itself are necessary to the growth and personality of any city.
Remembering to take my last photos of the building and a picture of my Mother and Aunt in front of the grand archway, I considered what the building holds and how we were held in the space for a few hours that afternoon and how we became the space as Brancusi’s words expressed.