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Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin each Thursday. Read past columns here.
In my childhood, sometime in the years of the first through the sixth grades, I began to find a special seat at lunchtime. I placed myself along the outer edge of the cafeteria at the LeConte Elementary School.
You see, this room doubled as the school library. What seemed like miles of book shelves lined the perimeter of this multi-purpose room.
I have always managed to multitask well. During lunch I often scanned the shelves for books that I had not yet read. I have an indelible visual memory. This is of finding one of my favorite childhood books on those shelves. Bottom shelf, halfway across the left side of the cafeteria beginning with authors A and B.
“Best Friends” was written by Mary Bard in 1955. It was a whimsical story that features a girl named Suzie and her best friend, CoCo who had moved from France to the house next door. Eventually, in this book, Suzie’s mother marries CoCo’s father and the best part of the story is about their blended family. A romantic at heart, and a child of a broken home, this story enchanted me.
When I was twelve years old we moved from the city to a new house in the suburbs. It was there where I found my best friend who lived in the house next door. Our parents never married – they had spouses of their own, of course. And neither of us was from an exotic place like France. We were the only girls in families of unruly boys. We became inseparable best friends within months, if not weeks.
As young teens we shared wardrobes, record albums and term papers. We complained bitterly about our brothers and we shared annoying babysitting jobs. As young adults we declared our loyalty with sisterly acts like standing up for each other in our respective weddings. We gave our firstborn daughters each other’s names. Over the years and throughout the ensuing decades we weathered life’s losses, we endured separations of thousands of miles and we reconnected again after a very painful, many-years friendship storm.
A few weeks ago, a colleague in the library recommended Gail Caldwell’s recent book, “Let’s Take the Long Walk Home.” In it Caldwell recounts her extremely close friendship with another author, Caroline Knapp. For many years Caldwell and Knapp walked together with their dogs through Massachusetts woods. They swam and rowed together on the Charles River. They confessed their deepest fears and hopes and shared the secrets and rituals of their lives. It is a memoir of life and death and a bittersweet tale of a friendship found and lost. Knapp, the author of “Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Their Dogs” died of lung cancer in 2002. Devastated, Caldwell works through her grief in this beautiful story of the journey of their attachment.
Last summer I was drawn to the book written by Martha Stewart’s estranged friend, Mariana Pasternak. “The Best of Friends: Martha and Me” is a poignant, sometimes rewarding but mostly bitter description of a twenty-year friendship which ended in a schism caused by Pasternak’s testimony in Stewart’s high-profile trial. It is, in the end, a long, tedious, painful and sad tale of friendship lost.
One of my favorite books about friendship was written in 2004 by Paul Newman and A. E. Hotchner. While “Shameless Exploitation In the Pursuit of the Common Good” is the story of the Newman’s Own brand of salad dressings and the testing and marketing of many gourmet grocery items, it is also about the story of a friendship. Paul Newman and writer A. E. Hotchner created a successful brand, made tons of money for charity and made miracles happen with their “Hole in the Wall Gang” camps for critically-ill children around the world. (Hotchner followed up with a memoir of this friendship in 2010 entitled “Paul and Me: Fifty-three Years of Adventures and Misadventures With My Pal Paul Newman.”)
Last October a book was published in which woman golfer Kris Tschetter recounts her deep friendship with golfing champion Ben Hogan. “Mr. Hogan, the Man I Knew: An LPGA Player Looks Back on an Amazing Friendship and Lessons She Learned From Golf’s Greatest Legend” is a lovely story. Beginning in 1980, when Kris was a collegiate golfer, her relationship with the formidable Mr. Hogan lasted several decades until his death in 1997.
In 2009 Jeffrey Zaslow, Wall Street Journal columnist, wrote about the power of the friendship of eleven childhood friends who grew up in Ames, Iowa. “The Girls From Ames” is the special story of young women who scattered across the country, who married, divorced and died, as one of them would. Bittersweet, tearful and witty, Zaslow successfully captures the amazing bond of women friends into their forties – especially those inspirational bonds which were formed in those tender years of youth.
On a recent trip to a conference in Southern California I was stranded due to the weather emergency that closed airports across the Midwest and East coast. It was my sister-friend, this bonded friend of childhood, who immediately purchased a ticket to Northern California and invited to me sit out my unfortunate layover in her home. It was her husband, my ‘brother-in-law’ by nature of our sisterly relationship, who made sure I had a confirmed flight home two days later. Nurtured and amused, the hours and minutes of my long sequestered time passed in comfort among the best of friends.
For help searching in the Minuteman catalog or for placing requests for books about special friendships, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org.
Shelby Warner is a part-time Reference Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. She is a guest columnist. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Read past columns here.
Mattie Mae was eleven and I was nine. Though I was nearly as tall as she, we were very different. That never bothered us. A lot of times I wished I had her beautiful chocolatey-brown skin. I was sickly white beside her. Best of all was her hair, braided into the tiniest plaits filling her head, row after row. Even if I stood in front of the mirror for hours, I couldn’t make my fine, straight hair do that, so, I had to be satisfied with touching and admiring hers. I was jealous because her hair was always so neat without having to be combed.
Mattie Mae lived a half-mile away with her grandfather. I loved playing with her. She was always in a good mood and would join me in ‘most any adventure I dreamed up. Her smile was big and bright and, when she laughed, she made me laugh, too. We lived on a big cotton and peach farm. There were no other children our ages for miles and miles. Mattie Mae and I only had each other.
Then one day I was told I could not play with Mattie Mae anymore. On the night he told me, I looked up into my Dad’s face and saw the fine lines around his eyes tracing out the path of deeply etched wrinkles that were to come. It was a face I trusted, a face brown from hours in the sun. We were close. He could always comfort me. That night he looked very uncomfortable with what he said, “You’re too old to play with Mattie Mae.”
In the South, in those day, you lived by the system, stayed in your place, in the proper pecking order. But until that moment, I had not really understood the consequences of the “way things were.” I suppose I should have ranted and raved but nine was pretty much a “do as I say” age – at least, it was for me.
So, I did not play with Mattie Mae anymore, my buddy, my sister, my friend. The next time I saw her, I was embarrassed and shy, waved to her from a distance, then quickly looked away. She was going to the fields with her mother, while I sold peaches by the side of the road. That summer was long and lonely. Then one day her family was gone. Moved, my parents said, to some other farm, and I never saw her again.
Years went by and eventually I rebelled against the system, against its edicts, against my family traditions. But for Mattie Mae and me it was too late. Oh, how I wish I could have found Mattie Mae, asked her forgiveness and told her how I’ve missed her.
I think of Mattie Mae often but most especially on Martin Luther King Day when we, as a nation, remember a man who had a vision for a better world where people could live together as equals. His courage was beyond question and his dream was an inspiration to many.
There are a large number of books telling the story of King’s life and his dream. One of the first I read was “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, written by King while he was in prison. The following are some of the newer items on the shelves in Morrill Memorial Library:
Eric J. Sundquist’s book, “King’s Dream: The Legacy of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech”, is a well researched and easy to read book. He seeks to return the speech to its proper context in our history. A book well worth your time.
The library also owns a box set of 24 speeches and sermons by King called, “Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Essential Box Set: The Landmark Speeches and Sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr. Each item is introduced by a famous person such as Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Rosa Parks among others. If you’ve never heard King speak, you need to check this one out.
Another new book is Hampton Sides’ “Hellbound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the International Hunt for His Assassin”. This book reads like a novel and sets side by side two men, one whose life and death changed a nation and another who brought about that death. This tragedy is the focus of Sides’ 2010 book.
In 1963, my husband stood in the crowd in Washington, D.C. as King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. It is still one which brings shivers to the bones and tears to the eyes as you listen to his rich and trumpeting voice deliver those uplifting words, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” On January 17 we honor the man, his life, and a vision which is bringing hope and change to all of us..
Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin each Thursday. Read past columns here.
‘Twas the night after Christmas and my goodness, come look!
It’s an Amazon Kindle and a Barnes and Noble Nook.
The stockings are hung by the bookcase nearby.
But the library’s busy and I’m telling you why.
You’ve been given an eReader and you haven’t a clue.
My goodness, oh my and what do you do?
So, you’ve been surprised, or not so much, by the gift of an eReader this year. Believe me, the library world has been surprised along with you.
Several months ago we held a Technology Petting Zoo at the library and over thirty of you showed up to learn a bit about the gadgets that we shared. Among them were the Apple products, the iPad, iPod, iTouch and iPhone. We also demonstrated a few GPS navigational devices such as the Magellan, Garmin and Tom-Tom.
By far the most popular devices that night, however, were several generations of the Amazon Kindle, the Sony eReader and the Barnes and Noble Nook.
Many of us who work at the library own and use some of these devices regularly so that we are able to share ours with you.
Only some of us, however, are reading eBooks on devices that include the iPhone and Kindle, the Nook and the Sony eReader. Less of us are downloading free e-audiobooks and e-books.
Part of the reason for this is personal preference and immediate availability of the book. Part of it too has been some of the difficulty and confusion that have been inherent in this new technology. Much like the VHS/Beta struggles in the birth of the videocassette there have been some differences in equipment and media. Unlike the videocassette battle, however, there have been many more than two devices and many, many ways to be confounded by them.
And the choices this holiday season have been mindboggling.
We’ve been trying to play catch up at the library and the companies that are supplying our downloadable eBooks and audiobooks have been anxious to help. They have produced cheat-sheets and FAQs pages. Not fast enough for us, I might add. Each month more and more devices are added to the compatibility lists and more and more downloadables are produced in various formats. It’s been enough to make our heads spin at the library.
OverDrive audiobooks and e-books are supplied through our membership in the Minuteman Library Network. We are thrilled to offer this new media at no cost to you. Both Minuteman and your library have been investing as we all make the leap into the future and more and more materials are available in various formats.
The Morrill Memorial Library has had a subscription to Recorded Books audiobooks and eBooks in conjunction with NetLibrary for several years. These free downloadables are now available for iPod and iPhone users and titles for most formats are added monthly.
These services are costly and licenses from OverDrive and Recorded Books require that our downloadables are available only to Norwood residents and to those of our patrons who work in Norwood. Check our website for instructions on setting up accounts for both of these free services.
The Morrill Memorial Library has a brand-new website found at the same URL, norwoodlibrary.org. We’ve placed links to both of our downloadable collections, OverDrive and Recorded Books Connect, Click and Listen! (They are the same links you would have found on our old website.) You can also find these links on the menu under Readers Page below our library graphic that will link you to information and FAQs to help you find the information you need.
New Apple-products users (iPad, iPhone, iTouch and iPods) can be assisted at no cost at the “Genius Bar” in the Apple store at Legacy Place and other locations. The fastest way to get help is to make an appointment with them online through apple.com. My husband, Gerry, and I have bellied up to the Genius Bar at least a half-dozen times and have left the store completely satisfied.
Barnes and Noble stores are patiently assisting patrons with their product, the Nook. Many of the OverDrive books are compatible for use on the Nook. The Morrill Memorial Library has purchased a Nook and will be able to demonstrate how to download an e-book or audiobook at an information session at the library in January. We want to be able to help you with free downloadable audiobooks and e-books from your library.
Amazon’s Kindle at present is not compatible with any free downloadables through any library. Some libraries do own Kindles loaded with library-purchased e-books for use by their patrons. Our library does not own a Kindle or circulate one at this time.
None of us are experts, but the library wants to help direct you to find the information you need for your new devices this holiday season. Information can be found on the links I’ve mentioned above. Please check the library’s calendar for a date and time for our information session or call the library directly.
If you have questions about this library column, please call the library or send me an email. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog or for placing requests for downloadable e-books and audiobooks visit the Morrill Memorial Library or call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200.) Visit the Minuteman Library Catalog, the OverDrive Digital Media catalog or the Recorded Books Connect, Click and Listen! on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org.
Charlotte Canelli is the Library Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her columns in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin each week. Read all past columns which are archived here.
Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her entire article in this week’s Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Early this year I began an unusual personal project. I committed to writing 365 thank you notes in 365 days. My self-imposed rule dictated that each of these thank yous had to be written in 365 words or less.
Additionally (my rule, again) the notes of appreciation had to be snail-mailed. Yes, each with a signature, envelope, and return address and stamp.
Sadly, this ambitious project ended very far from its goal. Too quickly I was bogged down by a lack of time and I abandoned my whimsical project after the first 30 days.
Let me explain my failure.
First, gratitude comes from a deep place within and heartfelt writing takes time to construct. I found that I just didn’t have the time each and every day to spend on the process.
Simply put, reflection got in the way. It sometimes took more than a day to recover from the feelings conjured up by past memories brought about by my gratitude.
Second, early in the project I realized that many of the people I wanted to thank are now entirely gone. All of my grandparents, my parents, my aunts and uncles have passed on. My girlhood teachers, the parents of most of my childhood friends and many of my mentors are also no longer with us.
Others who had deeply affected my life have retired and moved away. Even with Google and other online resources some people were nearly impossible to find. I found myself spending time I didn’t have to search the Internet for a college professor, one of my daughter’s teachers and an elementary school principal.
Happily, however, I can report that on the flipside my futile endeavor was an achievement for many reasons.
I did actually manage to find several handfuls of people from my past and some rather interesting people from the present. Delightfully, some actually wrote back to me to thank me for thanking them. They were pleasantly surprised and touched by my gratitude.
The 365-word length rule was purely a fanciful challenge. Some letters had to be cut to the bone with much left unsaid. This was frustrating for me but was also a wonderful exercise. This is called “tight writing” or “taking the out the fat.” I practiced this process of tight writing and learned immensely from it.
Each Monday I wondered who I would thank that week. I often added one, two, three or sometimes ten new people to my list. Crossing them off the list once I had written the thank you was incredibly satisfying. More gratifying, however, was knowing there were so many people who had touched my life over many years.
Now that the project has been abandoned my new goal is to try to thank at least one person a day in an email, a phone call or in person. Just two simple words. Thank you.
And so, in this column to be published on Thanksgiving Day 2010, it seems particularly appropriate to thank some of the people important to our library.
Many non-profit organizations could not make exist without private donations and volunteers and the Morrill Memorial Library is no exception. I want to thank each and every donor, each and every Friend and library volunteer.
The Friends of the Morrill Memorial Library work tirelessly to give every penny they raise back to the library community in some way. The Friends provide funds for the programming that the library offers on a weekly basis. The Friends provide the funds to purchase equipment, furnishings, museum passes and audiovisual materials for the library.
Where there is a need, our Friends answer it. Thank you, Friends.
They shall remain nameless here but there are many library volunteers who come to the library on a regular schedule to perform some of the most critical but repetitive tasks for us. Many shelve books. Some simply adhere stickers to DVDs, books and other materials. Some rearrange and tidy our bookshelves.
Others are young people who give many hours to the children’s librarians to free their time to do other things. Still others are wonderful volunteers who deliver books for our Outreach Department. Many more become trained tutors in our Literacy Department.
Thousands of hours per year are spent by loyal volunteers. Thank you, volunteers.
The library receives both anonymous and targeted donations every day. We use these funds to purchase materials and supplies. Thank you, donors.
Visit our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org, or call the director to learn about volunteer opportunities. While many of our opportunities are filled at the moment, we will be more than happy to speak to you about how you might help us in the future. Please consider joining the Friends of the Library. Your financial support or your help with the Book Sale and other Friends’ events helps the library in countless ways.
Thank you, Norwood, for your support in all ways of the Morrill Memorial Library.