Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery
Part IX
 (To Review, Part I)
(To Review, Part II)
(To Review, Part III)
(To Review, Part IV)
(To Review, Part V)
(To Review, Part VI)
(To Review, Part VII)
(To Review, Part VIII)

The researcher was frustrated. Every avenue she explored in trying to find someone who would claim the photos she'd found in the old yearbook proved fruitless. She'd written to the Friends of the Library from the public library in Jackson, Michigan, but heard nothing. She'd written to the nursing school at Loyola. Viewing their website, she saw it was an anniversary year for them -- surely they would be interested in a 1933 graduate? But the emptiness of her mailboxes, both e-mail and snail, belied that hope.

Her trip to see th experts at the Genealogy Library had been not quite a waste of time, but perhaps a waste of breath. She had talked to the librarian on duty, telling her about the quest, and asking for suggestions regarding where to turn next.

The librarian told her to contact the Michigan State Library, or public library of Chicago, and that if either of those institutions gave the researcher a resource or reference, to ask for an Inter Library Loan to get ahold of it. The researcher listened to the instructions, struggling to keep an attentive demeanor. She had hoped for a resource accessible while she was standing there.

Discouraged, the researcher turned to her own list of genealogy items she wanted to look up that day. Fortunately, my ancestors come from Virginia, and I know how to use the Virginia materials without help! She could hear the "harumph" inside her head.

She quickly found the late 18th century references she wanted and began jotting down dates and names. So sad, she thought. This Bible page lists fourteen children, but only two are shown living to maturity. She copied the information and moved on to the next source.

At 11:30 the researcher's cell phone rang. It was her lunch date -- a friend who was in town for the day. The researcher happily closed the books she was using and headed towards the elevator to the parking garage.

She smiled at a woman entering the library with three children in tow. The little girl was wearing a sailor-style dress, complete with bows on her pigtails in red, white, and blue. The older boy looked all boy -- his knees were skinned and his shirt had a truck embroidered on the pocket. A second younger little boy was wearing a romper and different colored croc shoes -- one blue and one green.  The children were following their mom like ducklings in a row. The researcher exulted that they were coming into the library, each child carrying a bag of books to return. Part of her wanted to go in with them to see what they would select to take home with them.

Still somewhat lost in the thoughts about her 18th century ancestors, the researcher mused. I wonder what it was like for the woman who had fourteen children in eighteen years. If they had all lived past infancy, she would have had a whole bunch of grandchildren! She stifled a chuckle as an image of a woman in a bonnet and long skirt, trailed by fourteen children in a row like ducklings, flitted through her mind.

She entered the elevator and pushed the button to go downstairs, glancing at her watch.  Good, 11:40.  I have plenty of time to get to the restaurant by noon.

When the elevator door opened, the researcher's jaw dropped. Instead of the concrete and steel industrial looking garage, the doors revealed a field of stubble, stretching out to a distant river. She heard the caw of crows and what sounded like the voices of children. Cautiously, she stepped to the edge of the elevator and peered around to the right. A giant puff of air at her back made her lose her balance and she fell forward onto the stubble of the field. When she turned around, the elevator was gone, as was her laptop and purse.

She heard a small voice ask, "why are you just sitting down there? Why aren't you playing our game?" The researcher stood up, brushed off her knees, and said to the child who had asked, "what game are you playing?" The child's face split open with a gap-toothed grin as she answered, "tag!" She smacked the researcher on the hand and took off running towards the distant river.

The researcher gathered her skirts (her skirts?), adjusted her bonnet (bonnet?), and joined the chase. If she was in a hallucination, she was going to enjoy every minute of it. Tag had ALWAYS been her favorite game.

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