Many of my friends are brilliant, wise and even urbane. Several of these folk are librarians. (Library people are cracker jack factory crazy. Just my kind of folk.)
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Amanda, is a reference librarian. I imagine that there are days where she feels like Hell’s court reporter, what with all of the crazy information for which she is responsible. One of the tasks that befalls her and her comrades is the perpetual, “Hey, do you know the name of that book . . . . ” And then the patron goes on to describe the book cover’s color, sheen ratio and the scent that the author was wearing on the day the book was published. All of this is interesting information but does very little to help the librarian find the book.
My friend is very nice to all and doesn’t do what I would do which is blast an air horn in their face and demand that they go away and figure out what they hell they want before returning to darken my desktop. No, Amanda simple does her darndest to get the answer to their question or at least distract them before sending them on their way.
I was congratulating her on this skill when I found myself telling her about a book I enjoyed reading when I was a child, and have since been unable to locate.
I went to Catholic school from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. I would like to think that it didn’t screw me up too badly. I think Catholic school libraries are stocked by books picked out by someone who is doing penance for having too much fun in their youth. The books are usually very old and less than thrilling. (If you wanted something really spicy you would have to go to the public library and check out things by Norma Klein or Judy Blume)
The book I loved so much that I checked it out over and over was very popular with several other students. The book was called Slave Girl and it was a historical novel about a, you guessed it, slave. It was kind of a Uncle Tom’s Cabin-lite with a soupcon of Harriet Tubman’s biography tossed in for zest.
The book stands out in my memory because of Enrichment classes.
Enrichment class was an hour or so in the day where students in grades 4-6 would study Art, Drama, Cooking or get tutoring. I think it was some kind of Catholic School Social Darwinism, but I don’t think I could prove that.
Anyway, my older brother and I wound up in the same Drama Enrichment class. The class voted to re -enact a scene from Slave Girl. We would perform this scene with sock puppets.
Close your eyes and think.
A small group of 4-6th graders in Catholic School Uniform in 1977 acting out a scene about a slave girl with sock puppets.
I want to know what stoned student teacher let that genie out of the bottle.
My brother, the character actor, played the wizened slave whose slightly askew googly eyes and white yarn told of many long, hard days on the plantation.
He doesn’t remember this event at all. I didn’t remember it until I was asking Amanda about Slave Girl. (Don’t do an Amazon or Google search on “Slave Girl”)
My brother and I have gone on to team up on plays such as “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath”. He has given award winning performances all over North Texas.
Ah, but none as noble as the slave sock.