Reaney Days

Reaney Days

Friday, May 15, 2020

Something Wicked This Way Came

Dear Page Turners near and far,

To paraphrase Act 4, Scene 1 from Macbeth, “something wicked this way came”.  With a few rumbles of thunder, a pick up in the wind and torrential downpours, today’s anticipated bad weather arrived.  Here are a couple of photos looking south to the library park and across Kingsbury Avenue at about 530P.  How dark did it get?  Dark enough to turn the park lights on.  

I have been ensconced since 1030A working away like a bee in my hive.  When I heard about the bad weather and checked the forecast, I decided to stay put until it passes.  Lightening does not always play well with our fire alarm and I would rather be camped out at the library then drenched making a mad dash in. 

Our fabulous building was built in 1909 with a later addition in 1936.  Still standing after 111 years one can only imagine the forces of nature and historical events that it has witnessed.  Oh, if these walls could talk! 

These last couple of months, I have often wondered what librarian Kate Hough and her patrons talked about during the 1918 flu pandemic. Was the library closed like we are now? Unlike today, when we know everything almost before it happens, did the community even know what was coming? I don’t know.  What I do know is that our patron, Joseph Reaney, was instrumental in seeing the Masonic Temple was set up as a temporary hospital. 

Back to the subjects of storms.  When my daughter was around 3, a horrific storm rolled through the valley and yes, set off our alarm.  At that time, with a child so young and a husband who worked nights, my assistant, Marta Zimmerman, was on top of the call list.

A bit after the alarm had gone in, Marta called me and told me I had better get to the library.  Heading off in the rain, I packed Davida in her car seat, zoomed her to her next-door grandparents, and made my way to 19 Kingsbury Avenue. 
Three quarters of the street was lined with fire trucks and the PD.  The building had been struck and, in fact, our fire panel fried.  

We later learned that our dear housekeeper, Lucille Christman, who had been in the building cleaning at the time, felt the building shudder, and left. 
Marta told me when she arrived, fireman John Burkhart called out “Let her through, let her through!”  When I arrived the excitement was beginning to settle.  You can imagine the conversations Marta and I had for the next several days.

The rain has stopped, and now as I look out my office window, I see the first pink buds on the crab-apple tree.  Mr. Ernest Underwood; gentleman, farmer, educator and at one time, a long tenured library trustee, dug the hole and planted this beauty many years ago. 

As it blooms and blossoms, spare a thought for the wonderful and amazing people who have left their mark on our community.  People who have made a difference; including the ladies and gentlemen of the fire and police departments, and ambulance corps, and individuals like Joseph Reaney, Kate Hough, John Burkhart, Marta Zimmerman, Lucille Christman and Ernest Underwood. 

There are many tales yet to be shared from Libraryland, stories of fabulous adventures and awesome people,  but today I’ll leave you with one, last thought.

These are strange times we now find ourselves in.  Be kind and be there for each other.  Sometimes, it is just that simple. 


Monday, April 20, 2020

Are you a fan of fans?

Among our collections here at 19 Kingsbury Avenue are some lovely hand-held fans.   Ostrich feathers were very popular in the 1820’s while the ‘30s and ‘40s saw some romantic confections embossed with gold.

Southern belles of the 1860’s were most fond of the “autograph” fan.  Years later, in their dotage, they could look back at the names and remember those special soirees of their youth. 

Throughout the late 1800s fans were created from hand painted silks and satins edged with lace.  Gauze, crepe and vellum were also popular choices with the ever-present ostrich feather.  Fans were also crafted from ivory, mother of pearl and sandalwood.

Besides serving a practical purpose of keeping cool, fans had their own language; the language of flirtation.  For example, if you snapped it open and shut, you were proclaiming the gentleman was being cruel.  If, on the other hand, you carried it in your left hand, you wanted to make a gentleman's acquaintance . 
As the 19th century drew to a close, the gracefulness and mystique of the flutter fan was soon lost.  

The photos show an overall look at part of the collection with close-up looks of a child’s fan, a fan with an embedded mirror so ladies could keep track of their potential gentleman callers, a beautiful paper fan with a pastoral design, a paper fan with a silver leaf design and, finally, a gorgeous mother of pearl fan decorated with a gold bird and vine motif from Cuba.   
There is also a photo from the Victorian National Trust of the United Kingdom offering a glimpse into the language of the fan.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Tell Your Story

Dear patrons, friends, family and neighbors near and far,

We find ourselves experiencing an interesting and trying time.  Did you ever think we would find ourselves in this place?  I certainly didn’t.
Yesterday as I sat munching my way through a bowl of Cheerios for Easter Dinner it occurred to me that in the past several weeks, and who knows for how long in the future, Covid-19 has impacted us all one way or the other. 
From that impact, we all have stories to be told and preserved for the next generation about this time in our lives. 
As the “wordiest” place in town, who better to collect those stories then the library? 

To that end I have created an email,, and invite you to share your stories.  We’ll print them on our end, preserve them in a scrap book for future generations, and someday, gather together for a community reading.

Please, don’t tell me you can’t write. You can.  Everyone has a story to tell. 
Once you write the first sentence, I guarantee you a paragraph or two will surely emerge. 

As you think about what you want to share, consider some of these points.

Have you had to become your child’s teacher?  How’s that working out?

Are you on the front lines in health care or other emergency services?  Are there days you wish you had chosen another career?

Have you had to follow arrows on the floor while grocery shopping? What was the atmosphere like; respectful or frenzied? 

What is it like to be a business owner in this climate? 

What is it like to be in local government where directives can change day by day?

Why did you buy all that toilet paper?

Are you afraid? For yourself? Your children? Other family members?

What emotions are you experiencing; boredom, anger, frustration, despair, resignation?

What do you do to stay positive?

How do you relax?

How have you been handling the mundane chores of everyday life: doctor’s appointments, servicing your car, going to the bank and post office?

Easter has come and gone, proms and graduations are in flux, birthdays, weddings and yes, even funerals are no longer “normal”.    How have you been coping with these missed milestones and family gatherings?  Do you Facetime, leave gifts on the porch, or quietly mourn what was or may never be?

What do you miss the most about life before Covid-19?

Do you think you have changed, for better or worse, because of this experience?

At home I have a box of letters my dad wrote to my mom when he was in the Army during WWII.  Every now and again I’ll take out a handful and read them.  Not only have I learned a great deal of the history of the time, but I have also experienced that history from my dad’s perspective.  

We find ourselves waging a very different kind of battle, but the myriad of emotions are the same.  

Yes, you can write and someday your children and grandchildren will study the pandemic of 2020, and your writings will give them a perspective no history book will have. 

All are invited to share; no matter where you are, if you are reading this post
please email your stories to    

Dawn Lamphere
April 13, 2020