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.
There is nothing I love more than reading to young children. I felt like we had fallen into a treasure trove of great entertainment.
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.
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.
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.