Creation of the Carnegie Library

Chapter 1 - Part 2

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“I was told that if I volunteered my time for the rest of the year, I might be hired in January of 33, once a new budget was approved. I agreed to the offer. From October of 32 to January of 33, I was paid a small amount of money for my efforts. This money came from overdue book fines. It was the only revenue the library generated at the time.”

“I agreed to take the job, working for peanuts, because I love books and all things book related. Plus, I felt sorry for the two librarians, the two Minnies they were called, because neither one could operate the coal burning furnace during the winter months. Minnie Bertram and Minnie Routsong were both very good people and highly regarded. I wanted to help them as best I could.”

Dale Carnegie

“I’ve been to that library. I’ve been there many times”, I noted. “I attended Jr. High on the same city block as the library. I have like a million memories from that area.”

“A lot changed on that city block from when I started working there in 32 and you attending Jr. High”, Eddie said. “What year did you start Jr. High”, he asked. “62”, I responded. “That 30-year period ushered in big changes. And I could tell you about a few, if you like?” But for posterity’s sake I should add that the Library Board in 1932 consisted of Mrs. W.D. Brumbaugh Senior, Mrs. Ben Hughes, and Perry Hall. Harry Vance was President of the Board and James Martz was the Pay Master.”

“Greenville’s School Superintendent, Gil Baily, was also on the Library Board – back then the school Superintendent was always a library board member. Gil Baily and James Martz were two of my teachers, growing up. That’s how I got the job.”

“Those names you just rattled off don’t mean anything to me”, I said. “They weren’t’ meant for you”, he replied. “They were for other ears to hear.” “But no one else is here except for you and me” I noted. “There are no other ears here, to hear.” “You don’t know that”, he said. “Someday you might write about this conversation for others to hear. And it will mean something to them. Things are always bigger than they first appear.” “There he goes again”, I thought. “He’s kind of an odd guy, but I liked him, nevertheless.”

Eddie finished his Root Beer and ordered another one. He continued to talk. “I had several job titles because I worked multiple jobs. I was the library’s Janitor, Caretaker, Yardman, Librarian, Museum Guide, and Book Doctor.”

“My guess is that very few people from Greenville know this but when I started work, Greenville’s Museum was located in the library’s basement.”

“A lot of things were different back then. For example, if a book started to unravel or fall apart from overuse, the library had to mend it. There was simply not enough money in the budget to purchase replacement books.”

“I mentioned prior that one of my working titles was ‘Book Doctor’ but I didn’t mention how that title came to be. During my twenty plus years as Greenville’s Bookmobile driver, I serviced all of the branch libraries. During the summer of 49, while visiting our branch library in Ansonia, I set up a small table under a shade tree. Within minutes kids started to gather around the table to watch me work. I was mending books that day.”

“At some point, a small girl approached the table and asked me what I was doing?” ‘Are you fixing sick books’, she asked. “And then she blurted out loud ‘you must be some sort of book doctor because you are helping the sick books get better.’”

“For years following this incident, whenever I saw this young girl, she would greet me as ‘Mr. Book Doctor.’ Occasionally, she would address me as Doctor Eddie in front of my co-workers which prompted one of them to ask me once, ‘what is your doctorate in?’ “I have a PhD in making kids smile”, I responded.

“That’s a great story”, I told the old man. “Thank you”, Eddie said. “Working with kids and books are two of my favorite things in life. And I lived a full and rich life by doing so.” I saw an opening after he stopped talking, “did you say ‘lived’, as in past tense?”

“Past tense, future tense, present tense, it doesn’t really matter because time is but a silly illusion that humans live by. It’s a human construct, nothing more. Tiny sub-atomic particles are the building blocks of matter and energy. And these particles move at the speed of light. And we both know that at the speed of light, time stops.”

I didn’t want to show my ignorance on the subject so I nodded in agreement. I tried to read Einstein’s book on relativity during my freshman year of college but it was over my head. I decided to keep this experience to myself, though. I already felt kind of dumb in Eddie’s presence. There was no need to celebrate it.