Suicide Mission to the Library by
(281 Stories)

Prompted By Libraries

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

We had a porch swing hung in our apartment. Not classy but perfect for reading library books.

Originally published on October 19, 2019 for the prompt “Libraries”

There is nothing I love more than reading to young children. I felt like we had fallen into a treasure trove of great entertainment.

My trip to the public library with two toddlers in tow was born of desperation and ignorance. We had recently moved to an apartment in the suburb of Evanston, Illinois. I had no car, no friends, and two very young kids who loved books. It made perfect sense to me at the time to unfold my umbrella stroller, hang a large bag on the back, put my one-year-old in it, grab my three-year-old by the hand, walk to the bus stop, and catch a bus that would let me off at the downtown library.

Anyone remember these strollers?

This was in an era with no cell phones or Internet. I knew where the bus stopped near my apartment and somehow also knew it would let me off near the library. In my frenzy to get out of the apartment with my little ones and seek refuge in a library filled with children’s books that would entertain them both there and later at home, I made a major miscalculation. I assumed the place where the bus stopped near the library was also the place to board it in reverse to get home.

My dining room — I really needed to get out!

Blissfully unaware of my error, we had a delightful visit. There is nothing I love more than reading to young children. I felt like we had fallen into a treasure trove of great entertainment. We pulled books from the shelves, read them, and carefully selected our favorites to check out and bring home with us. In fact, there were so many beloved books that, even with my daughter seated in the umbrella stroller, her weight barely supported the bag of books that threatened to dump her backwards in the stroller. Nevertheless, I persisted.

I must have assumed someone would see my plight and help me board the bus and later get off. Folks were kinder in those days. What I didn’t anticipate was that there was no bus stopping in the same spot for our reverse journey home. There were also no “bus stop” signs. After waiting a while for my magic bus to appear, it finally dawned on me that we now lived in a suburb in which everyone but me had a car. No one I asked on the street had a clue where I could find a bus home.

My only option was to return to my happy place, the library. Surely these women (in those days most librarians were women) would be able to find the information I needed to get back home. And they tried. They looked for bus schedules and maps, to no avail. Finally, they decided the best option was to call a cab for me, the pitiful woman with two little kids and far too many books to schlep home.

Shortly after that, I got a car. I also discovered there was a branch library within walking distance of my apartment. The children’s section of the library was my refuge from being cooped up in a small apartment in which the dining room was a playroom filled with wall to wall toys. Every three weeks, through rain or snow, we faithfully returned those books and spent delightful time selecting a new batch to read. I loved books and libraries as a child, and I passed that on to my children. Thanks to all of the children’s librarians for their patience and guidance and for the story hours that brought joy to my kids and many others.

Always loved books

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

Visit Author's Website

Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. I do remember so well those days of needing to get out – anyplace would do, but the library was the best. Thanks for the memory, Laurie!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Yes, Marcia, as we have shared many times, being the parent of very young kids sometimes led to desperate measures like my trip to the library. As a fellow long-time resident of Evanston, you probably remember the days when bus stops and schedules were a mystery (especially to someone new to the city).

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Yes, we are lucky to have had access to great children’s library collections and especially to wonderful children’s librarians. I’m sure we both attended quite a few free story hours!

  2. Suzy says:

    Great story, Laurie, and perfect pictures! And yes, I do remember those umbrella strollers like your red and white striped one, I had one just like it but in blue. I’m impressed with your bravery in taking an infant and a toddler to the library on the bus. Glad it worked out, even though you ended up taking a taxi home. I am surprised that the librarians didn’t have bus schedules, or at least know where the bus stop was. How nice that there turned out to be a branch that was walking distance from your apartment, so you didn’t have to deal with the bus again.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Great story, Laurie, with wonderful photos to accompany it (yes, I remember the umbrella stroller – what a beauty you are!). But what a dilemma you encountered getting home. Can’t believe no one had any idea where the bus stopped. It sounds comic now, but I’m sure it wasn’t for you at the time. Glad you soon got that car and found a near-by branch, so could walk there in good weather, or drive in bad. One of your sentences even reminded me of one of my kid’s favorite series of books: the Magic School Bus series. Those were wonderful books, turned into a TV series that wasn’t as great. I think I still have the books in the basement (I have the Eric Carle books and other of my favorites; hope springs eternal for grandchildren).

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Betsy, those umbrella strollers were so unsafe! Mine didn’t even have a crotch strap — just a lap belt. And it got caught in an escalator once, which was far more frightening than my library adventure. I still save my favorite children’s books, even the ones my grandkids have outgrown, because I love them so much.

  4. Wonderful Laurie, I can just see that umbrella stroller almost toppling over, with books and child possibly spilling out!
    What determination and fortitude we had as young mothers, and glad you found that near-by branch!

  5. Wow, Laurie — Up suburbia’s creek with two kids and a pile of books without a bus! In the Twilight Zone, your bus would have come along, but who knows if it would have carried you home?

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    This ode to libraries was very heart-warming. It was also a sad case of the need for better transportation systems, with better information! In some cases that has improved (you can look up when a bus arrives online), but the basic services still need improvement. May everyone also have a nearby library to enjoy as you did!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      This (of course) happened in the pre-iPhone/Google era. I foolishly assume there would be a marked bus stop and schedule available at the library. Our little branch was my savior because it was close to home and enough to keep three little kids supplied with wonderful books.

  7. Jim Willis says:

    Wonderfully told memories of the role libraries played in helping to raise and delight your kids, Laurie. You were a prime candidate for Mom of the Year!]

Leave a Reply