Adult Night at the Library

When I lived on Bay Street as a kid in the 1970s, there was a magical place just up the road, by the little sand dune beyond the firehouse, where I could spend an entire rainy afternoon perusing and borrowing books. 

The walk was just the right distance, and usually involved visiting the adjacent dune just on the Library’s north side.  It was a nice vantage point to overlook the neighborhood. It’s brushy crest gave us a sense of privacy even as we surveyed the ‘hood in every direction. It was then above an old gas station where the visitor’s center is now, and that dune has since been flattened into parking, taking away the magic. 

But back then, you could view the town in every direction from its peak:  the highway’s traffic to the west, and gum was to be had at Safeway to the east – then just across Maple Street.  And when it rained, and was time to come indoors, there was ALWAYS the Public Library — just one trove of a room tacked on the side of the City Hall down the long sandy run of the dune’s face to the south. This OTHER magical hideaway was presided over by the most wonderful librarian, my friend, Wyma. And I’m sure we came in soaking wet and sandy and disheveled with twigs in our hair on more than one occasion.

Recently Wyma offered a couple pieces my dad contributed from around that period that I’m thrilled to share: her recognition for her Florence tour of duty, and some later graphics from when she moved on to Corvallis Public library. The “Adult Night” graphics are unlikely to be remembered  by anyone from Florence, but Stu’s work has a way of traveling and being both memorable and treasured as is evidenced here, even when he declined to erase his pencil lines.

The Siuslaw Public Library has since been transformed and expanded and relocated, but in my heart it’s still down within a stone’s throw of Old Town, and Stu’s treasured calligraphy evokes that magic for me.  

March 17, 2023

I remember you well, Nick Henderson. Such a lively boy, friendly and you always had a smile for me when you came to the library hungry for books. Lively, yes, but also well mannered and you could be quiet when the library or another occasion demanded. Your whole family was a blessing to our little town on the Siuslaw River and the Pacific Coast.

When the artists came to town they were first designated hippies. I’m not sure why – maybe it was Ted’s long hair. But that’s what I heard first. Then I discovered that they were high-quality artists and craftsmen. Did you know I had their wallpaper in the library office? There weren’t blank walls in the library – they were all covered with bookshelves and books. But in the back room, where I spent the mornings before the library opened I had beautiful geometric wallpaper in soft shades of pink, lavender, gray, and white. That was courtesy of your father who installed it himself. And, I think they may have donated the wallpaper – or their time for installing.

What did we do in the library? We started a storytelling guild, bringing Dr. Carolyn Feller Bauer to teach us the art of storytelling. Women from the community came, learned, and started a story time for children. We had puppetry that began one summer with two pre-teens whose mother thought they needed something to do. They volunteered at the library and one wrote the puppet plays while the other constructed the mini-stage and they performed puppet shows for children. After I left I learned that they toured the state doing puppet shows with the Children’s Consultant from our State Library. Wish I could recall their names. Then some community parents – Phyllis____ a lovely second grade teacher who sadly later had MD, Sue Noble, and Joe Freeman started a summer reading program. We even took children to the University Library in Eugene one day (were you on that bus?). The Library Board – was quite active and began an association with other libraries in the county that led to a Lane County Library District that funded a bookmobile to take library service to communities without established libraries. Your mother JoAnn was on the Library Board along with Mary Johnston, Jolene Pinkney, Tom ________, Sherri Lutero, Kay Hutchison, Claudia Howells, Kay Butler and Annette Franulovich (not all at the same time). I was the only staff person at the library at the time and when I took vacation, Kay Butler came in and ran the library.

We borrowed books from other libraries to supplement our collection: In the summer we took books from the elementary library for use of children in our library. We borrowed hundreds of mystery and detective books from the Springfield Library to meet the demand from our most vocal readers. We partnered with the Lincoln County Historical Society for a local oral history project for which we hired Kim Stafford. My sister Beth, visiting from Chicago one summer, typed the scripts from the oral history that Kim produced. We partnered with a Lane Regional Arts group to bring a ballet to Florence. The Extension Agent planted a demonstration garden in the front of the library. We were very lucky in that people wanted to do things for the community and we were able to help with and be a part of that. One lady moved to town and started a Friends of the Library. Her name was Frances and she wrote and published a Friends of the Library newsletter.

Wow! What fond memories you stirred up. I’m sure that’s way more than you wanted to know and it’s certainly more than I realized I remembered. You have done something profound for me, Nick. By asking a question, you’ve brought back some of my best memories.

By the way, none of this was above and beyond. Mostly it was community people who had an idea and we helped them realize it through the library. The library was so well supported by the people in Florence that it was relatively easy to make things happen. Did you know I got my library degree while working at the Siuslaw Public Library? I had a supper break from 5 to 7 during which we closed the library. For an hour of it I crossed 101 to the Sportsman where I watched a graduate credit course in library science. Then I got 9 months leave of absence to finish the degree. That was when Beverly Stafford ran the library.

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