From a great friend, author, and columnist, Harold Bales, a retired Methodist minister...
Nugget #1042 August 10, 2014
"As Long as We Live, The Library is Open"
We were talking recently and Ann Robbins Phillips, wonderful storyteller and novelist, reminded me that dead men carry no tales. I told her that the writer in me wouldn't mind a visit to Hell just to hear some of those stories people have taken to their graves. Of course, I wouldn't want to stay long, but a little field research would be helpful to my storytelling.
I told Ann about how, 10 years ago, I received word that I had a very short time to live and nothing could be done for me. Well, as you can see, that prediction was wildly off the mark. When I heard that forecast, I was shocked. I had a brief time of weeping. I wept first because I did not want to leave my family and friends. The second reason I wept was that I have an abundance of stories that I have not yet told. I can't tell them because the principals in them are still alive and I won't tell the stories until those folk go to glory.
Ann said that when she hears that an older person has died, she tells her husband, "Well, a library just burned down!" Ann writes historical fiction with plots set in the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains. Her novel, Revenge, is about a deadly family feud in North Carolina in the 1860s. It is based loosely on her own family history. She is a descendant of both of the feuding families. Ann is married to Sam, a retired minister, and they have 15 grandchildren. So despite the intensity of her story and the use of the vernacular of the time about which she writes, Ann's characters don't cuss and she foregoes the customary, gratuitous sex scenes found in most novels. But she gets her story told. And there are some pretty deep spiritual themes there. Any good storyteller is a library, as Ann says. She is certainly a library.
I love libraries. One of my favorites is the Ann Barker Memorial Little Free Library in Summerville, Ga. Ann's husband, Bill, established it in her memory. It is a pretty, waterproof box on a post in front of his home. It looks like a wee library. It contains about 15 books all the time and specializes in Southern writers. Bill is himself a writer. It is free to the public. I'm proud to have been represented in this library.
There are many similar libraries nowadays being erected by folks like Bill Barker. I am glad for this. We may be approaching a time when there will be more of these little free libraries than the traditional, community libraries that we have known in the past. Public libraries now struggle for the funding they need to keep open, purchase books, modernize technology and deal with new ways in which we communicate. We need to support our community, public libraries. Donate some money or books. Volunteer to work. Read some books. Fall in love with a librarian. Come on gang, let's hear it for our libraries!
Also, we need to remember that we people of mature experience are, ourselves, libraries. We are filled with stories. When each of us passes from the scene, another library has been closed. To whom are you telling your stories? It's a way of keeping your library open.
This time of the year is a great time for American, patriotic storytelling. We have just observed Memorial Day and D-Day brings again to our minds the incredible sacrifices of those who stood in the way of tyranny and in favor of civilization for humankind. There are still with us many men and women who lived stories that need to be told and retold. Your stories need telling.
Lessons for life are not sufficiently learned until they are told and retold again and again. That's when they become "bred in the bone" for us. When important lessons are overlearned, that's when they are able to sustain us as a people - even after we personal, individual libraries are burned down.
The REVENGE Series! Follow me!!! Would love to hear from readers!