Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sanctity of Little Women

There are some books that I can never turn my back on. Even if I already have several copies of it, I have to just keep accumulating them because the story is so significant to me. Little Women is one of those books.

I recently sorted through a large pile of books that were donated to the library, and there was a perma-bound edition of Little Women in there. The library didn't need another copy, and I already own many copies and versions of the book, but I couldn't leave it. Besides, I justify it because I didn't have a copy with that cover art.

I love the bubble-gum pink color, and the black and white etching illustration because we always think that black and white equates simplicity, but the pattern at the hem of the dress is very detailed, and it symbolizes the complexities of womanhood, sisterhood, love, marriage and other themes are are central to the story.

And then just yesterday, I was at my local library and there were a couple books I grabbed from the free book cart:

The first one is a 1950's abridged version, and I am always a sucker for vintage books. But the other book is very significant because it proves a reality that I blogged about not too long ago. In that post, I wrote about how one woman was confused by the fact that Beth didn't die in the version of Little Women that she read with her daughter. The explanation is simple; the woman was clearly reading a publication that was only Little Women, the first book, and did not contain the second book Good Wives, which was published a year afterwards. Although most modern publications combine the two stories, clearly there are still some versions that separate the volumes. And the book with purple cover is obviously a modern book, but it specifically says that it is Book Two: Good Wives

If a reader was new to this story, she might wonder why the book begins with Meg's wedding.

Just for fun, here's a couple other copies of Little Women that line my shelves:

Gotta love the vintage copies!

Both of these editions have the same illustrations by Louis Jambor, but the covers are different.

An older version of just the second volume- I found it at a thrift store.

The book on the left is very special to me; it's the first Little Women book I ever read. Obviously, it's a very shortened version of the story, which is based on the 1994 film, but it is what began my love for this story.  I was sick in bed, so I spent the days reading it. I remember I finally convinced my mom to take me to see the movie in the theater, and just as I was putting my coat on, the doctor called, saying that my strep throat test was positive. So I had to get back in bed, and wait until I was better to see the movie. UGH! I was so mad.

The book on the right is another film adaptation, for even younger readers.

I guess I just can't say no to this story.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Rockin' Out

Labor Day is the official end to summer. I just wanted to spend it with my two loves, and I also wanted to do/see something new, so I turned to my new best friend Atlas Obscura for some ideas for cheap (or better yet, FREE) daytrips. We decided to go see the Madison Boulder, which is the largest glacial erratic (piece of rock that was carried by glacial ice) in New England. It's 83 feet long, 23 feet high (above the ground), 37 feet wide and weighs approximately 5,000 tons. The land that surrounds it was acquired by the state in 1946. Here's a photo of us in front of it, just so you can get an idea of its size:

The park is about 17 acres, and there are paths winding through the mossy woods that are perfect for wandering and walking. Pets are permitted, but I didn't think my cats and rabbits would have cared to come along.

My husband snapped this picture of me and my son as we stopped to look over a creek, and I love that we're both wearing tie dye.

I'm sad that summer is over, but road trips in the fall are always the best.

Friday, September 1, 2017

For Madeline

Three years ago today is burned into my brain.

I try to keep this blog more professional than personal, so I've never written about this before.

However, the library profession is dedicated to promoting knowledge in all forms. Anything that can help anyone understand, or feel understood, is worth writing and reading.

I spent that afternoon with a friend, helping her clear out her grandparents' home. The house had an amazing assortment of items that had not been claimed by the family, the antique brokers, estate sale shoppers, and yard sale pickers, so she invited us to come over and pick out things that we might like for our newly purchased home. It was a great time, and after we all went for pizza. That night, I was looking for something in the garage, when Eric shouted to me that my dad was on the phone. That's when I found out.

Just earlier that day, I had been scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I clicked on the photos you were uploading. You were celebrating a friend's birthday, and you were posting pictures that are not unusual for a 20 year old. I specifically remember thinking how much I liked your lipstick color, and how it made your smile look so bright.

At first I could not believe it. I thought "No, it's just someone that looks like her. Someone with a similar name. Someone with the same kind of car. It must be a mistake."  And then I thought that maybe there was another type of miscommunication; maybe you were in an accident, and you were badly hurt, but still with us.

It just didn't seem possible. You're 20 years old: having fun with friends, posting goofy pics. Just a few months beforehand, I hugged you goodbye as we walked out the bowling alley benefit, for my cousin on the other side of the family.  A couple years before that, you were at my wedding. When you were a little girl, I played Barbie's with you in your basement, and we somehow combined The Little Mermaid with an Austin Powers storyline.

I saw you in the hospital, when you were just a couple hours old.  My brother and I weren't allowed in, so your mom brought you into the hallway so we could see you. I always used to tease you that we listened to "Whoomp, There It Is" on repeat as we drove your sister to meet you.

You were the first newborn baby I'd ever seen before. The second newborn I would see would be my son. I wanted to honor you, so I took your initials M and J, and reversed them. You are Madeline Joan. He is John Matthew.

We planted sunflowers in our front yard. I have visited your headstone, but I much prefer to think of you while I look at those flowers. They are so vibrant, and full of life right now, and that's how I like to think of you.

I do not know the person that made this short film, but he did a wonderful job. If you ever met her, you should watch it so that you can see her face again. If you've never met her, or heard of her until now, then you can still watch it. I'm sure the creator would enjoy knowing how far his film has reached. And I know it makes all of us who miss her feel a little closer.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Birthplace of the Babe

The last post I'll write about my trip. It's suiting, because when we decided to move to Maryland in 2007, I told my now-husband that I had found the first place I wanted to visit down there. He was wary, probably because he thought it was going to be a dollhouse shop or something, but he was pretty happy when I told him our first tourist stop would be the home where George Herman Ruth was born in 1895.

My husband and son in front of the home's outside plaque

I'm not a "sports person" really, but I was always fascinated with the mythos of Babe Ruth. My dad was responsible for my learning about him, and the biopic starring John Goodman came out when I was a kid, and most people my age can quote lines from The Sandlot, so it wasn't long before I was checking out biographies about him from the local library. My dad once told me Babe Ruth had a connection to my high school- apparently, he played in an exhibition game in Rochester, NY, and while visiting the city he ate alot of Zweigle's hot dogs (a local brand, which is far superior to any other weiner), and the Zweigle girls attended Nazareth Academy. .  .I was never sure how factual this story was. The part about the exhibition game is true, and indeed there was a student who graduated from Nazareth in 1929 who had the last name Zweigle, and the Zweigle's company did have a Facebook post last year claiming that during his visit, the Babe was hospitalized after eating too many hot dogs (and drinking too much pop). So I guess my dad's story does check out!

My love of the Babe continues to this day; in grad school I took a course on American Consumerism and Leisure, and one of our texts was about the history of baseball. I turned right to the chapter about Babe Ruth, and the resurrection of the sport following the World Series scandal in 1919.

He's a prime example of our collective "American Dream"; the Horatio Alger type of parable which teaches us that natural talent and hard work can take someone from the humblest of roots and propel them to legendary status.

That type of narrative happens in sports, but it also happens in Hollywood and politics: three cultural institutes that define us.

Anyways, we hadn't visited the Babe Ruth Birthplace in about a decade, but we were happy to see it again.

The museum is the restored row house where he was born in an upstairs bedroom. And of course, there are a number of his original possessions on display there including uniforms, signed baseballs, a brick from the building that was once his father's saloon, toiletry sets, and his kimono from when he visited Japan.

Now we get ready to say good-bye to summer, and see what the fall brings.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Rehoboth Beach

We had to do a day at Rehoboth Beach during our little trip. Not much has changed there, but the little boy we went with has changed quite a bit in the past year:



Last year, he had almost no hair and just wanted to dig in the sand. This year, his blonde curls went crazy with the salt water and the humidity, and he cried when it was time to get out of the ocean.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Historic Cliff's Schoolhouse in Maryland

This historic one room schoolhouse is located on Quaker Neck Road in Kent County, Maryland, the same road that I lived on for three years.

I don't remember exactly how we discovered the little structure, but I do remember that I drove by it multiple times while we lived down there, and it was never open. There was a sign on the door that said the building was open by appointment, so I assumed it was only opened and staffed for specific events, like school visits.

We decided to drive by it on our recent trip, and much to our surprise, it was open!

We ventured in, and there was one man in there, who was restoring the blackboards. We'd just happened to catch him while he was working, and he was nice enough to let us have a quick look and snap some pictures.

It was exciting for me to see inside 10 years after I first found the little school, and I always have a soft spot for one room schoolhouses. This little school was built in 1878, and was in use until 1939. The building is preserved in its original state, and is furnished with many of its original desks. Other items such as maps, school books, slates and other period items have been donated to contribute to its authenticity.

Photographs from the school's early days hang in the entry way:

and visitors undoubtedly gasp and giggle over the "1915 Rules for Teachers":

Suffice it to say, I would not have been a very good teacher in 1915. 

Loitering in ice cream parlors is something I'm known for.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

He's just a Poe boy, from a Poe family. . .

One little stop I wanted to make during our (sweltering hot) day in Baltimore is the final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you who he was, or why this little cemetery would be a go-to place for me, a horror-loving librarian.

The story of how Baltimore's adopted son came to rest here is a little muddled; after he died in 1849, he was buried in an unmarked grave. News spread that the famous poet's grave was anonymous and uncared for, so by 1865 there was a movement in place to obtain a more fitting grave for him. The monument was placed there in 1875, and his remains were moved there. There is a small stone that marks the spot of his original placement.

As you can see from these photos, the graveyard is much more disorderly than most modern ones, with headstones right up against the church's walls. This is because the graves predate the church that stands on the grounds (the church was built in 1855) so the structure had to straddle the gravestones and burial vaults that were already there.

If the heat hadn't been so intense that day, I probably would've explored the cemetery more, but we were all melting by that point.

In closing, here's Vincent Price reciting and performing Poe's best known work "The Raven".