Sitting In Some Cross-time Bar 

Greenville Public Library: The Early Years

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Introduction: Chapter I – Part I

I have a tale to tell. It’s a tall tale but sometimes tall tales make the best kind of tales, tall or otherwise. You be the judge.

While in a state of deep meditation, I found myself drifting. I drifted into a vision, where my surroundings were unknown.

It felt like I jumped several dimensions for I drifted aimlessly for hours. At least it felt like hours. Time often stands still during excursions of this nature.

My vision, or whatever it was, finally came to rest outside an odd-looking bar. The bar was fairly nondescript but very inviting, so I wandered in and took a seat next to an old man.

I ordered a beer with a Bourbon chaser. I offered to buy the old man sitting next to me a drink, as well, and he obliged. “I’ll take a Root Beer”, the old man declared, “in a frosty glass, if you have one.” As the bartender disappeared into the background to ready our drinks I turned to the elderly gentleman and asked if he knew where we were?

“In the place between particles”, he responded. Since his answer made no sense to me, I moved on to a different question. “Do you come here often” I enquired. “I come as often as need be, he replied.”

“Ok, I get it”, I thought to myself. “This guy is one of those guys who can’t answer a direct question, directly. So, I decided to try something simple. “My name is Alan, Alan Jay Clark to be exact.” I offered up my hand for a friendly shake and he responded in kind.

“Glad to meet you, Alan Jay Clark.” As he took my hand he said, “my name is Eddie Jay Beichler.” “Wait a minute”, I said as I paused to think. “I have an uncle by the same name but he’s dead.” The longer I stared at him, however, the more he looked like my deceased uncle, so I asked him a really dumb question, “are you dead?”

“Describe dead, if you will”, he asked. This seemed easy enough, so I discussed a state of being where a once living thing stops living. “The atoms of any living thing, upon death, will dissipate, change form and reestablish themselves as something altogether different.”

I felt pleased about my answer, but Eddie was not impressed. “You didn’t really say anything of substance, now did you?” “For example, are atoms dead or alive?” If they’re dead, then how did they form a living entity?” And if they are alive, well, what’s to keep them from staying alive, forever?”

The guy is clever, I’ll give him that.  I decided to change the subject yet again. “Do you work around here”, I muttered. “No, ‘I’m retired”, he said. “I’m a retired librarian.”

“This is great”, I thought. I love books. I love to read and learn new things. “Did you work in a library near here”, I caught myself asking even though I had no idea where I was. “I’m retired from the Greenville library located in Darke County, Ohio, near downtown.”

I was momentarily taken aback by his answer. As fate would have it, I too am from Greenville, Ohio. “What are the odds”, I thought to myself, that this guy was from my hometown?

Sensing a connection, I asked him when he retired. And it was at this point that he started to open up in such a way that I could finally follow him.

Our drinks finally arrived. After Eddie took a long gulp of his Root Beer he started reminiscing. I downed my shot of Bourbon and settled in for a listen. I love the sensation of 90 proof alcohol as it slides down the throat in route to warming the belly. I picked up the habit of doing shooters during the war. It’s a bad habit, I must confess, but I plan on stopping sometime soon.

“The library donated by Scottish businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was staffed by two people during the summer of 1932”, Eddie went on to say. “The great depression hit in 29 and Greenville, like most other small towns, was struggling to survive. The library at that time was operated by the School Board. It’s two librarians were paid by the school district, not the library. A janitor also worked at the library, but he quit after failing to be paid for several weeks in a row.”

To be continued…