In my humble opinion


Posted 1/11/23

Adjective: “of a book, composition, or other artistic work having no name, i.e. “his new column, as yet untitled.”

 Every week, I sit at my computer, crack my knuckles and …

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In my humble opinion



Adjective: “of a book, composition, or other artistic work having no name, i.e. “his new column, as yet untitled.”

 Every week, I sit at my computer, crack my knuckles and prepare to type. Sometimes, I have a very clear notion of what the subject will be, and have scribbled possible titles on scraps of paper scattered throughout the house. Other times, it’s not until the writing commences that the column starts to take shape and the title morphs from one line to another, based on where I’ve been, what I’ve done, or which adorable trick the dog has performed in between. It’s just now occurring to me that I might have attention deficit disorder (ADD). Hmmm.

Traditionally, in the first weeks of the New Year, pickings are slim on the events calendar, so I decided to check out the “adult gaming group” held on Friday afternoons at the Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library (EBCPL) in Monticello, which offers a plethora of programming year ‘round.

Writing “the games people play” on a torn napkin, I considered writing about my ex, but called library director Mary Paige Lang-Clouse instead. “Yes, of course she’ll be with me,” I chirped in answer to her asking about Dharma. “See you then.”

“Through the looking glass,” I wrote as an alternate title, thinking about the inscription my mother had written in the second of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” books, which I have on my shelf today. “May you always have the ability to step ‘through the looking glass’,” she wrote, “and into your own worlds of make believe and imagination.”

Immediately the song “Pure Imagination” began playing in my head and I thought about “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” while jotting down notes for the title of this piece. Where was I? Oh, right, playing games.

As soon as I entered the EBCPL game room, it became clear that the ladies playing mahjong (another column/another day) were serious, and in no mood for my brand of chatter. Some didn’t even look up from the rows of decorative tiles displayed on racks in front of them—which also reminded me of Mom, but I digress.

Across the room there was a table of card-playing gal-pals who were excited to see you-know-who wagging her tail.

Joanne Rashell, Fran Greenfield, Barbara Rudick and Penny Reinlieb were playing “Samba,” a variation of Canasta, in which three 52-card decks (plus six jokers) are used.

Unlike standard Canasta, the ladies informed me, in which “only cards of the same rank may be melded [grouped face up on the playing surface and scored], Samba also allows sequences of three or more cards in the same suit to be melded.”

“New title: Over my head,” I wrote in my notebook, while nodding stupidly and answering questions about the dog. The ladies were charming, but even they grew weary of my endless questions and not playing cards, so I excused myself and wandered through the library, wondering about that famous ancient fire that we all learned about in grade school. The Wi-Fi signal is strong at the EBCPL, so I used the Google to look it up.

“The Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. The library was part of a larger research institution called the Mouseion, which was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts.

“Despite the widespread modern belief that the Library of Alexandria was burned once and cataclysmically destroyed,” the Wikipedia article elaborated, “the Library actually declined gradually over the course of several centuries. The library, or part of its collection, was accidentally burned by Julius Caesar during his civil war in 48 BC, but it is unclear how much was actually destroyed and it seems to have either survived or been rebuilt shortly thereafter.”

Wanting to learn more about libraries in general, I continued down the rabbit hole, still thinking about Alice in Wonderland. “The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and a group of his friends, became the first American subscription library,” the Google informed me. “While founded as a membership library, the company did allow members to borrow books, and so may have been the first truly public library.”

“New title: Who’s on first?” I wrote on an old receipt I found in the car, thinking myself terribly clever while recalling the old Abbott and Costello routine that made our parents roar with laughter.

It wasn’t a squirrel (can you say ADD?), but I noticed something as I was pulling out of the library parking lot, which caused me to stop and take a pic. “Look up ‘Vera’s Story Garden’ when you get home,” I whispered into the notes app on my phone. “Might make for a good column title.” And so I did. I discovered an interesting article in Bookology Magazine written by Lang-Clouse, the director of the EBCPL.

“The creation of the Story Garden as a Literary Landmark alongside the Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library in Monticello, N.Y.,” she wrote “will serve as a lasting legacy to Vera B. Williams, her stories and illustrations, and to the inspiration she gave to the children she wrote them for.”

Thinking that “The Neverending Story” might serve at the top of the page, I settled into my favorite chair to read the rest of Lang-Clouse’s article online.

I still don’t have a title for this column, but highly recommend checking out the great programming available at a library near you. Visit for a list of libraries in Sullivan County and for those on the other side of the river.

For more on Vera Williams, read Lang-Clouse’s complete article here:

Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library, library, Vera Williams


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  • sheilamdugan5

    So heartwarming to read about Vera's garden! What a dear friend she was Sheila Dugan

    Sunday, January 15, 2023 Report this