My tiny hometown had a tiny public library, but it was a gigantic window to the world for me. It was built like a brown shoe box. The front door had to be pushed a bit, and in summer the wall unit air conditioner rumbled like thunder. The librarian was a tiny white haired lady with wireframe glasses and heavy tied black Granny shoes who spoke in a tiny voice that made you speak softly like you were in a church.
I can still tell where some of the books sat. Katherine Ann Porter’s Ship of Fools was on the top row of the first set of shelves by the front door. Second row hat horse stories and nurse love stories. Then an area in the middle of the long room opened up with some magazines and a table for browsing in a chosen book. Right under the air conditioner on the east wall was a long row of the classics…Last of the Mohicans, House of Seven Gables, Around the World in Seven Days, War and Peace and others. Below them was the children’s section, a feast for me on many a summer day.
It was close to the bottom that I found the set of chapter books dealing with Native Americans. I can see the turquoise covers yet and wish I knew the publishers today so I could re-find this series of books. Each book told stories and myths of different tribes. I felt right at home with these books and became so absorbed in the tales that I read them over and over again. I did not know that my own blood ran Red so to speak. The stories were full of moral lessons, of First People’s beliefs about living responsibly, respecting the earth, honoring elders and right living in general.
My grandmother put silver and turquoise bracelets on my arm before I started school. My dad vetoed any baby ear piercings or I might have had them too is my guess. She was a quiet but proud woman. She did the responsible thing always; she respected the thoughts of others. She held her temper, spoke in soft voices, and turned the other cheek. She put more on me than just jewelry. She was a visible form of the little turquoise books I found on the tiny library’s shelves that gave me a big start in life.