On Sunday, April 24h, I had the pleasure of donating copies of my novels to Cumberland’s Awesome House of Books. (https://www.facebook.com/CumberlandLFL34034/)
This is one example of the growing phenomenon of small, volunteer-run, free-standing places where one can borrow, read, and return books. There are no library cards (who remembers those?) No late fees. No time limits.
It harkens back to a time when people trusted each other and accepted the responsibility of that trust. Meeting Arlene Griffin Smith and her family, the caretakers of the library, was a pleasure.
In a world where “Brevity is the soul of wit” is twisted, corrupted, and compacted into a 140-character assassination of writing, preserving the art of words and books is a worthy goal.
At a time when HD TV putrifies imagination, books serve as the last defenders of our ability to use our mind’s eye.
For a writer, people who read are our most precious commodity. Without them, our words remain just symbols on a page. The act of offering books to preserve the joy of reading is one dear to my heart.
I want to thank Arlene for devoting her time to such a worthy cause and encourage all to stop by, visit, find a book, and lose yourself in an author’s world.
There was also an unexpected bonus to my visit. A teacher I first met in 1969 at the brand new (at the time) McCourt Middle School (Cumberland, RI) was there.
Dan Walsh, a teacher I had for quite a few classes, and I spoke of those very different times in school. Both of us had the pleasure of growing up in Cumberland, Rhode Island at a time quite idyllic. We shared the nostalgia of a Cumberland from a different era.
As I progressed from middle to high school, Dan moved up with us. He was among several excellent teachers my fellow CHS class of 1974 members were fortunate enough to experience.
Dan taught English. He offered many classes in subjects such as Elizabethan Poets, Composition, Writing, American Literature. I took as many of them as I could.
I sometimes cannot remember what I had for lunch, but I recall the beauty of the words of William Blake, The Tyger,
Tyger, Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
Or William Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn,
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness!
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time
I have always enjoyed writing and reading. The joy of taking bits and pieces of imagination, mixing it with twenty-six letters and assorted punctuation and producing a character, a story, or an entire world is as close as one can get to being a magician.
Teachers like Dan Walsh gave me the magic. They unlocked the power of words. They taught me to think.
For that, I am eternally grateful.
Sometime in 1974, I walked out of my last class with Dan Walsh. But I thought he might like to know that those classes never walked out of me.
(Now I must go back and make sure there are no grammar errors in this piece. Forty some years later and still apprehensive of the critical eye of Dan Walsh.)