Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part IV

(To Review, Part I)
(To Review, Part II)
(To Review, Part III)

Scrutinizing the photo of the man in baggy pants for clues, the researcher knew she’d have to put it aside for now until she could talk with someone more familiar with the time frame in which the photo was made. She returned to the index. Ah! Emajean Mahoney was also on page 52! She had overlooked the second entry earlier when she got distracted by the photo of the man she found.

Turning to page 52, she had to gingerly pull the pages apart. Obviously the annual had been damp at some point and with the glossy paper, some sticking had occurred. When she finally got the page open she gazed upon a photo of Emajean Mahoney.  It was a standard graduation photo with cap and gown. The woman portrayed had the look that many sitting for graduation photos bear – a desire to just get it over with. Still, some of the personality showed through. She sat leaning forward, not slumped, but perhaps trying to hurry the photographer along. 

The researcher took a quick look at the rest of the page. Of the twelve photos, seven were women. Six of those said “Registered Nurse” and one said “Bachelor of Philosophy.” Of the five men, there were two Certificates in Medicine, two Doctors of Jurisprudence, and one Bachelor of Arts.
The researcher smacked her forehead. I was in such a hurry to get to the bottom of these mystery photos, I didn’t even look at the year! She flipped to the front page of the book and there it was. The Loyolan, 1933. She sat back and thought for a minute. Wow! All those women with higher educations! Now, how best to proceed?

Looking at the photo page again, she saw that the clues to Emajean Mahoney’s heirs were plain in the annotation.
Her name was followed by
Entered from Jackson High School.
Jackson, Michigan

Okay, two prongs of attack. The name and the location. I can start with a location search here at home, but for the name, I need access to   She started gathering everything up to get ready to go to the library. She loved having her tax dollars  work for her providing access to the database.  She had had it at home for a while, but it was expensive.  Unlike other databases though, ancestry was only available at the library itself.  She picked up the Loyolan to take with her and a cascade of photos fell out. Most were the kind that everyone takes at graduation – friends together posing, graduate poses with family member . . . but one was almost a bookmark, and captured the researcher’s attention immediately.

What a beautiful baby! she thought.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Children's & Young Adult Mini Sale

Once again, the Friends of Reston Regional Library will hold our popular Children's & Young Adult Mini Used Book Sale. We established this sale due to MANY requests by buyers who attended our huge semi-annual sale. They wanted something smaller and more friendly. This has proven to be just what the doctor ordered and also includes teacher materials. Because our volunteers work so hard to sort out the good stuff for this sale, we do NOT offer children's books in the Semi-Annual sales in September or April.

Because it is a smaller sale, and in order to keep it a friendlier sale, we have established some guidelines that are different than the semi-annual sale.

2.  Limit on number of books per household in the first few hours on Saturday.

We also have a further request. Although this is a friendlier sale for families, it doesn't mean that it's a free-for-all for the children who come with you. Please keep an eye on your children and instruct them to treat the books respectfully.  If you don't intend to purchase the book your child is handling, please leave it in a condition that someone else will be interested in doing so.

So mark your calendars:

Children's & Young Adult Book Sale
August 21 & 22
Reston Regional Library
Sat: 10-4
Sun: 1-4

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part III

Several days passed before the researcher could return to the mystery of the photo and book. During that time some part of her brain that was not required for her day job was pondering the next step. The idea of tracking down every person in the annual was onerous, and probably fruitless. The annual was from the Class of 1933. Figuring an average age of 22 for graduates, any survivors were around 99 years old -- not likely to be a productive use of her time and energy. Maybe the note held more clues than were obvious...

That evening, after a wonderfully satisfying dinner of Thai food from the new restaurant she'd read about in the paper, the researcher was motivated to tackle the mystery once more. Before she did though, she went to the basement to retrieve a light table. This was when she was glad of her pack rat tendencies. You never knew when something would come in handy.

She set out all of the materials, plugged in the light table, and slipped on her gloves. Using tweezers to lay the typed note on the table, she mentally crossed her fingers as she flipped on the light. It was a white light, shining through the old parchment. There! She could see faint indentations of letters from the original typewriter. Flipping the off switch for the light table, she turned to the scanner. Its light was far brighter and might reveal more.

She placed the scrap on the scanner and waited for it to go through its warmup. When it signaled ready, she pressed the button. She only wanted to give the item one pass, as the intense light was very hard on old ink.

When the image flashed up on the computer monitor, she felt her stomach tickling with an adrenalin boost. She could just make out the name.

Mahoney! The researcher had to quell her excitement as she turned to the index of the old volume. Under "M" there were TWO Mahoneys listed: Eugene and Emajean.

She sat back and thought for a minute. It has to be Emajean. No one would send an invitation to a man with the address "Maw".  And, this was a nursing program, so perhaps the blessed duties referred to later in the note means her nursing duties.

Emajean was listed as appearing on page 123. The researcher turned to that page and sat back in disbelief. The page was missing! But firmly tucked into the place where the page would have attached was another photo. Far from providing answers or clues, this one was full of its own questions.

The researcher put everything away and went to bed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Glimpse of Coal Country

Coal Run, by Tawni O'Dell, is an interesting look at the characters who spring up, almost as from the mines, in coal country. The story begins with a flashback to a massive coal mine explosion that kills over half the male population of Coal Run, PA. The writer so clearly describes the sequence of events that led to the explosion -- it reminded me of the Upper Branch disaster that occurred in April this year. And although the impact on the families at Upper Branch is yet to be written in the long-term, this book gives an eloquent picture of how more than a mine is destroyed when such a disaster occurs.

The extremely flawed hero of the book, the great Ivan Z, was able to escape becoming a coal miner by being an outstanding football player. Yet, when the story begins he's back in Coal Run (why is part of the story), broken and largely hopeless, trying to come to terms with the legacy of the mines.

The characters in this novel are exquisitely crafted. Jolene the beauty queen, Ivan's sister, is as beautiful and sensual as she is kind and loving. The Sheriff and Dr. John create boundaries for Ivan through their presence, without stripping his dignity (he manages to do that on his own). The spectre of Reese Raynor's return from prison hangs over the story as Ivan fears the impact of this violent man.  In response to the events of his own life, Ivan continues to self-destruct with alcohol, yet there's something decent in him that compels the reader to keep caring about whether he's going to make it back to life. It's the decency in which he visits Reese Raynor's wife, Crystal, who lays in a coma because of Reese's violence. It's the decency in which Ivan spends time with his youngest nephew trying to fit into the uncomfortable hero image only a six year old can craft. And it's the decency in which Ivan approaches Val, his childhood hero, who returns to Coal Run for the first time in many years for the funeral of the old woman whose life and death draws them all together.

The novel is gritty. There's lots of alcohol, a fair amount of sex and lots of profanity. None of it is gratuitous - it all fits the setting and the story. The description of the mine, and the causes of the explosion are sadly, all too familiar from this spring. This book isn't about the conflict between mine owners and miners, or profits and a decent living though. It's about a hard working, hard drinking community that manages to survive despite the worst that can happen to it.

The blogger listened to it on CD and the narrator was amazing. There were many driveway moments in this book, and no fairy tale ending, but a satisfying one nonetheless.

It's under FIC ODE at FCPL and there are 15 copies available today.  Check it out!

Monday, July 19, 2010

One That Got Away

The Friends and Staff of Reston Regional Library published a cookbook in the winter.  It was a struggle getting enough recipes to make it work as we battled snow and winter malaise. Ironically, since then, recipes are popping up all over!  (You can get a copy of the coobkbook by e-mailing us for library pickup, or by clicking on the sidebar link to do it through Amazon).

One of our faithful contributors, cashiers, and volunteers used the cookbook as an opportunity to publish old family recipes -- and then bought the cookbooks for her various nieces so THEY would have all of the old family recipes, plus more!

And of course, one of the nieces said, "you forgot one."  So here it is, and we hope you enjoy it!  Thank you, Vicki!

Boil 5 medium potatoes (with skin on)
5 eggs
½ cup grated cheese (I use Romano)
1 pkg. solid Mozzarella cheese
Flavored bread crumbs
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Onion powder (optional)

Peel skin from potatoes after boiling. Mash potatoes using one egg at
a time. Mix grated cheese while mashing. Mix well. Grease pie plate
with margarine. Put a layer of potatoes on bottom of pie plate, then
slice cheese (Mozzarella) and put on top of potatoes. Keep on layering. Leave a
½ inch on top. Cut up margarine into tiny pieces, then place on top.
Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Cook at 350 degrees for ½ hour until
golden color.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part II

The researcher groaned as she sat at the table to examine the book and photo more fully. She had worked many times on old books in poor condition. In the beginning, finding a loose photo had been a personal challenge. Her pulse would pick up, her interest piqued. But so many "special" books down the line, and she had become jaded.

She slipped on a pair of cotton gloves and picked the photo up. The young girl was about nine or ten years old. Dressed in simple white, she was surrounded by flowers and holding a big bouquet. A special occasion of some sort, guessed the researcher. The girl had on long socks encased in Mary-Jane type shoes - very much a school girl look. Yet, she wore a flapper-style headband which contributed to the winsome nature of the photo and dated it to the Roaring Twenties. The researcher couldn't tell whether the headband held a feather or other flapper-type decoration. Flipping on a strong light, she began to move past the obvious details to study the more subtle cues.

In the back was a structure of some sort, probably a house with the outline of the photo. The girl's eyes were quite shadowed, perhaps by illness or perhaps by the light angle of the photo. There was a long piece of wood on the ground behind her, but the researcher could not discern any reason for it.

The girl's arms and legs showed her to be thin, but not sickly thin. The researcher decided the light angle accounted for the shadowed eyes. She chuckled as she honed in on the girl's expression. She had seen that expression on her own children's eyes when they were being forced to pose for a photo. At least today's digital cameras were very forgiving of movement! This photo had been taken when any movement became a blur on the print.

Yawning, the researcher looked up at the clock. "Oh my!" she thought. "I've spent over an hour and discovered nothing!" Nonetheless, she switched off the bright life and resolved to return to the photo soon. This was for fun, for a volunteering position. Her paid job demanded more of her time and energy than she often could give, so the little girl would have to wait.

The researcher put the photo in a protecting sleeve, and set it down. "Just for a minute," she told herself, and picked up the book the photo had come from. It fell open to a page in the index, where she found another clue. A note, typed on tissue-thin paper, yellowed with age, said:

Dear "Maw":
You are cordially invited to a 
Hard Times party on
June 15th at

Prize for the funniest costume.

Come as soon as you can be relieved of 
your blessed duties and stay as long as they
 can spare you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friends at the Festival

Volunteers from the Friends of Reston Regional Library had a great time on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. Although Saturday began with drenching rain during set-up, by the time the Festival actually opened the sun was out and the air was cool. It was a perfect weather day!

Many people stopped at our table to get information about volunteering with the Friends, the Summer Reading Program, and just to ask where the library is. Several were brand new Reston residents. One lady was visiting her son and daughter in law, and while they were waiting for a dinner reservation, strolled around to see the festival. She told us she is a librarian in her town in Iowa. We loaded her up with our excellent brochures and info to share with her Friends group there, and told her to have them e-mail us with their great ideas! She couldn't resist purchasing one of our cookbooks!

Special thanks to Vicki, Joan, Satya, Mike, Norbert, Rik, Charly, Brian, Andrew, Mary Ann, and Jen for taking time from your weekend to help spread the good news about Friends of the Library.

Thanks to Rik for photos

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Mystery

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part 1

She didn't mean to disappear. But it was never her intention in life to stand out from the crowd - to draw any attention to herself in any way either. So in disappearing, she became noticeable. Had she been around, this whole matter would never have ripened into a quest. But sometimes events spin beyond our control and we simply hang on for the ride.

Somewhere in between the Introduction and the Index of Persons Contained Therein, she had vanished.Well, her name was still there, but the page to which it referred had been ripped out -- severed from the book, along with any clues as to who she might have been or where she might be found.

The book passed through many hands over the years. No one ever examined it closely. No one mused upon the missing page trying to connect it with the woman they knew. One by one the people of that generation vanished, lost to time and war and life and death. Members of the family kept the volume, first for sentimental reminders of an earlier age. For subsequent generations it became an "heirloom."  Some advocated holding on to it for financial gain. But one day, even that value had faded in the face of how dirty and old it had become. When the time came to move to a smaller place, the old tome ended up in the "donation" pile.

Although the local library's donation standards would normally have precluded accepting this book, sharp eyes noticed that underneath the grime and water damage there was a gem of a mystery to be unraveled. Plucked from the pile destined for the County recycling program, the book moved to a new shelf in life. This shelf was marked "research later."

After another while had gone by, a researcher opened the book and discovered a loose photo.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Friends Welcome New Employees

Fairfax County Public Library's bizarre attempts to make the budget devastation less painful have resulted in some personnel moves. To our benefit, Reston Regional has gained two employees. We welcome our new staffers, Sue and Carol, and look forward to getting to know them better. Sue contributed a chocolate mousse pie recipe for our cookbook, so we already know we will like her ALOT!

If you stop by the library and think the staffing looks a little thin, you're right. While we say hello to two, we've simultaneously said good-bye to FIVE.  If you see new faces and think that money for hiring people has suddenly appeared, you're wrong. All of the employees at the library are having to do much more, with many fewer. These changes have wreaked havoc on morale.

Boosting morale is one of the areas that Friends of the Library tries to help at Reston. We try to provide resources for things that the staff can enjoy while they're working - to make the day a little more friendly. A couple of years ago we purchased a water cooler service for the work area. Imagine books, dust, and temperamental air conditioning!

An item we purchased fairly recently is a Keurig single serve coffee maker along with funds to keep it perking. It has been a great success. The employees enjoy it so much that we underwrote the cost to give them as 'welcome back to life' gifts for the three branches that have/are just re-opening after renovation.

We also try to say yes to any morale-boosting events that come up. For years we've underwritten the cost for things like staff picnics, volunteer and staff recognition events, and farewell events.

The Friends volunteers serve the staff, who then serve the public, which includes the Friends volunteers. We also provide resources and materials for the library, which benefits the public, which makes the public a little less cranky in these times of austerity (at least that's our hope). The circle continues. 

The library system was hit disproportionately hard this year. If you get the chance to thank a staff member for hanging in there, we encourage you to do so.

Finally, if you get a chance to visit the Reston Festival this weekend at the Reston Town Center, stop by our booth to say "hi!" The Festival goes from noon to 8 pm on Saturday, noon to 7 pm on Sunday.

Friday, July 2, 2010