Book story, story book


My aunt Helen, who died earlier this year at age 90, liked this story – we heard it more than once. And thinking about it, it really is worth the telling. At least, that’s what I claim.

Think of this story as set in something like 1930, when Helen and her kid brother Ted were around 10 years old, in Chadron, Nebraska, a little town in the panhandle that you never heard of unless you happen to have grown up there.

Helen and Ted loved reading, and liked to go to the library, where they would go through everything the library had in stock. On the day of this story, they approached the checkout counter, each laden with a pile of books. The librarian was someone new, someone they didn’t know. She informed them about the rules: children were only allowed to check out one book at a time.

Imagine the horror, disbelief, shock and outrage if you were to learn all at once about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny – and the library rules.

They protested – no shy, shrinking violets in this family! – but those were the rules. In those days, libraries were supposed to be Quiet! and the fuss attracted the attention of the real librarian, who had been elsewhere at the time.

“Is that the Hood kids you’re talking to?” she called to her colleague.

“Yes, it is.”

“The Hood kids are allowed to check out as many books as they like!”

And that was that.

Well, the kids took their pile of books outside, sat on the library steps and began reading. Some time later, they came back into the library, asking for more books.

“You, again!” said the green librarian, “Why are you back already?”

From the kids: “We’ve read these books. We’d like to get some more.”

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