When I was young, very young, my mother would take us to the library. Now, we had a library in the town we lived in New Jersey, but my mother came from Elizabeth, NJ and she loved going to their library. Here’s a picture of it below.
Practically regal, I would say. Sitting pretty on the corner of Broad St. and Elizabeth Ave., it is across the street from the Union County Courthouse; that formidable white obelisk in the city sky. You only went THERE for highly governmental reasons. Or to jail.
At least once a month we would drive to the library. Oh, there were shopping nights on Mondays and Thursdays when all of the shops would stay open until 9:00, but this was different. We’d park in one of the numerous parking lots near to the train station and walk. Ascending the stairs we would stroll through the heavy revolving door which was at the main entrance. (It has since been replaced with modern boring-ness, aka “just doors”.) These doors had a swish-swish-swish quality to them as you pushed through to the interior; even they were hushed in their own way.
Inside was a world like none other. At least none that I in my short life had ever seen. The room was high-ceilinged and up above towards the back there was a balcony of sorts where “secret” reference material would be brought out at your request. At first entering that large room, you came upon a large, very large, circular desk area. This was the main check-in and check-out place and was always very busy, but very quiet!
Maybe it was the dark wood of the place that sticks out most in my mind. Almost like those dark yarns we use sparingly in our projects. Thick, large, shiny wooden poles were interspersed around the room. From floor to ceiling they stood there and seemed to separate that great place into little nooks. Even the circular desk was of this dark wood. Beyond there were heavy tables and heavier chairs around them. To the right there was an area that I particularly loved. It was a little nook with a smaller table and chairs in it; they were still of that dark wood and heaviness. Books lined the bookshelves here and all around this great room.
Towards the back there were rows and rows of adult fiction. This was where my mother would go. Puts me in mind of the garter stitch; where each row looks just like the one before. No difference, yet very different and adding to the atmosphere. Here my Mom would peruse at her leisure, looking at authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell. British women with a flair for writing. I devoured their books! I loved the long lovely narratives, the descriptive paragraphs that went on for pages at a time; quite often like those intricate patterns we follow when a yarn-over follows knit-two-together, and slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over makes for a beautiful design every time!
To the left of this great room was the children’s room. It was a long well-lit room with lots of little tables and rows and rows of small books all along the walls. I had read just about everything worthy of reading there by the time I was in the fourth grade or so, and that’s when my mother suggested I look at some of the fiction she was reading. Sort of like switching from knit and purl to cable knitting. The stories are similar, but the presentation was priceless!
Little lighted lamps were situated here and there on tables and atop book shelves throughout the library and the large windows looked out onto blackness, which was only the night being invisible. I’m thinking of those increases and decreases which make knitting rows larger or smaller.
Everything was bathed in light and quiet. I think that’s what I liked best of all. The card catalog was twice the size of the one at our local library and you usually had to wait to use it. Picture a large cabinet with dozens of little drawers in it; tiny drawers which housed 3″ x 5″ cards with information about every book in the library. I love knitting block afghans; I wonder where THAT came from?
Inevitably we would find what we were looking for and would take our books up to be check out. Here you could check them out for a month; but it never took that long to read them. Very soon, we would find ourselves on the way to the Elizabeth Public Library once again. Finish one knitting project, a sweater, a hat, a scarf, a blanket, and start another! Amazed, but not so amazed, that there are so many, just like the hundreds of books I’ve read over the years.
Priceless. Just like this memory.
P.S. Be sure to scroll down to the little carousel below and see some of MY favorite all-time books! Make one of them yours, too!