Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

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

“Absolutely not!” Teodor emphatically told his nephew. “I am not going to marry an old fashioned Hungarian woman. I came to America to escape the old fashioned.”
László choked back a laugh. He gazed around his uncle’s study which was strewn with books and pictures from Hungary. Coats of arms of the great houses of Hungary, depictions of nursery rhymes they had both been raised with, paintings of hunting and stags.  Even the curtains were heavy damask, as would have been normal in old-fashioned, conservative. Hungarian homes.
Teodor himself gave an air of old fashioned conservatism. He wore a high removable collar, and cuff links showing a family crest. László caught Teodor’s arm and peered more closely.
“Are these your family crests?” he asked his uncle.
“No,” his uncle replied, jerking his arm back. “I helped a friend out with some cash and he insisted that I take them. They’re gold, so they’re worth something. What is it to you?”
László stifled his smile. “Nothing at all. If they’re worth something though, why don’t you sell them and get your money?”
His uncle, chastised him. “László! They are the crest of the man’s family! I cannot treat them as if they are unadorned gold!”
László smiled broadly, “But they’re not your family. Why would you wear them?”
Teodor answered shortly, “My shirt sleeves needed cuff-links. Now stop pestering me. I’m not going to change my mind about this girl!”
“Uncle,” began László, “she is a modern woman. She has even served as a nurse. Look around this place; you need someone to help you.” László gestured to the piles of papers and cups and saucers strewn about the study. It was where Teodor spent most of his time at home. The smart young man added, “she’ll be a fantastic cook, too, and you cannot deny that you miss good home cooking.”
Teodor grimaced. “Nephew,” he said. “I do not want to be dishonest with you. I do not want a woman to cook for me, to clean up after me, or to be dependent on me. If I want the company of women, I can seek them out and leave them when I am bored. ”
László sighed, “Teodor, I don’t know what to do then. I guess I’ll have to go to Hungary myself.”
Teodor was irritated with him. “That is not the only solution! This woman can accompany your mother, but not under the impression she will be keeping house for me or marrying me. I just want to make that clear!”
László smiled. “Okay, I’ll take the train to New York to meet their ship. I’ll spend the entire journey from New York to Chicago telling her what an unpleasant fellow you are.”
Teodor drew himself up to his entire height of 5’7”. “You will not do that! I will go to New York and meet the train. I will make myself an obviously unsuitable bridegroom.” He flashed a smile, “I need to do some business in New York anyway, and you cannot afford to miss out on your studies. I may not like having women around me, but I do love New York, and I know how to handle women when I need to be a charming rogue. I will enjoy the challenge. By the time we reach Chicago she will beg your mother to find her a widower with seven children to care for!” He winked at his nephew and twirled his moustache.
László rolled his eyes, shook his head, and assented to the arrangement.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This is what the library schedule looks like for the next couple of weeks:

The schedule for the next two weeks follows.
Monday, December 20, regionals open at 1pm - 9 pm
Tuesday, December 21, regional branches open 10 am - 9 pm
Wednesday, December 22, open 1 pm - 9 pm
Thursday, December 23 CLOSED
Friday, December 24 CLOSED
Saturday, December 25 CLOSED
Sunday, December 26 CLOSED
Monday, December 27 Reston Regional opens at 1 pm
Tuesday, December 28 open 10 am - 9 pm
Wednesday, December 29 open 1 pm - 9 pm
Thursday, December 30 CLOSED
Friday, December 31 CLOSED
Saturday, January 1 CLOSED
Sunday, January 2 open 1 pm to 5 pm

Thanks to our friends at George Mason for posting this.  I borrowed, amended and am giving credit!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

A Friends of the Library Mystery

When they got in that night the young women sat on Celia’s bed and talked quietly. Emajean asked, “Celia, would it be breaking the ‘time-rules’ for you to tell me about your own family? You must miss them.”
Celia teared up. She did miss Rob and her children, and to talk about them was a joy. Without revealing anything about their time they lived in, she was forced to describe her family by who they were, what they looked like, and what was important to them. She found it refreshing.
“My daughter is a lot like you. She is lively and passionate and wants to do everything all at once. My son is more introspective, but because he is a boy, he believes he should be tough. So he holds in his tenderness. I think someday a girl is going to break his heart. As his mother, I’m going to be so angry at her!,” Celia laughed at the prospect.
“Rob,” she started, and she choked up. “Rob is the kindest man alive. I do silly things and I forget to do things that are important to him and he never gets angry. He just laughs and hugs me and says none of that matters. He supports my writing and my volunteer work, and well, just everything.”
“Do you work?” asked Emajean.
“Yes, I’m a lawyer in a small law firm,” answered Celia.
Emajean’s eyes were round and her jaw dropped. “Women can be lawyers?” she asked, incredulous.
“Sure, a few are lawyers in your time. But it’s a hard road for them. I’m very grateful to them for going before me,” Celia said.
Emajean grinned. “I’ll bet you’re going to tell me that women are doctors too.”
“Actually, yes,” said Celia. “The medical schools are over 50% women in my time. There is still a pay disparity, but women are actually getting to where they can really contribute to their families.”
Celia thought for a minute before continuing. “Emajean, in your lifetime, we will have a Roman Catholic president, and you may even live long enough to see a Negro as the president of the United States.”
This was too much for Emajean. “I can’t believe that either one of those things will happen. How can a Negro be president if they can’t even use the same water fountains as we do?”
“That will change too. It will be difficult, and it will take a great deal of courage, but someday, the differences between you and László will be insignificant compared to the changes in society around you. Your children will see even greater changes. Men will walk on the moon, and . . . “ she stopped, realizing her enthusiasm was carrying her away from what she felt was permissible to share.
Emajean’s eyes were shining. She shivered as she said emphatically, “If we can get to the point where László and I raise no comment whatsoever, I’ll die happy!”
The lights dipped to warn the girls in the dormitory that they had only ten minutes to finish their evening toiletries and be in bed. Emajean hugged Celia quickly and slipped from the room.
Celia laid back in bed after brushing her teeth and stared at the ceiling. “God,” she began, “please let me be back with Rob and my children. Please?”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010



A new opportunity for Reston Regional Library
patrons to discuss important issues together
in a facilitated and civil atmosphere.

Once a month, starting January 11

Participation limited to 25

First Discussion Topic

Books provided by the Library. You may pick yours up 2 weeks before the group meets.

To Register, CLICK HERE

To find out more about this interesting, nation-wide program
put on by the Foreign Policy Association,


Friday, December 10, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

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

Released from the hospital wing, Celia was ordered to stay in her dormitory room for another twenty-four hours. She figured that was all the time she had to make this whole situation right because if she had to work as a nurse, they would surely know she was not who they thought she was.
Emajean had shown up to escort her back to her dormitory room. Celia discovered they lived on the same hall. Emajean told her that Celia’s roommate was away taking a semester off to help with a sick family member. After Emajean had fussed over her for a few minutes, Celia told her to go away for a while and come back to get her for dinner. She needed time to think. She sat on the bed and closed her eyes, trying to remember the photos that had fallen out of the Annual.
If this is about Emajean and László, why does she still show up single in the later City Directories? Am I supposed to help them get together? Or is this about Walter and somehow healing that rift? Is the Anthony Harper of this time related to my husband?
Emajean returned as promised and the girls went down to the dining room. Everything was very formal. There were highly polished silver utensils and serving pieces, cloth napkins and beautifully ironed tablecloths. All the formality was in contrast with the food served which was sparse and not very appealing. Celia guessed that even though food was scarce in 1933, the administrators of the university believed that the standards of the establishment should still be maintained, thus the formality.
After the meal Emajean invited Celia to stroll outside to enjoy some fresh air. Taking the hint, Celia agreed and the girls wound their way through the tables to the doors. An older nun fixed them with her forbidding gaze and admonished, “be back by 8:30 p.m!” The girls chorused, “yes, Sister,” and went through the heavy wooden doors, down the front steps, and out into a clear evening.
Emajean peppered Celia with questions about the future as they strolled arm in arm around the quad. Celia dodged most of them, to the point that Emajean was exasperated and burst out, “why don’t you tell me anything?”
Celia answered, “I think I’m supposed to follow some code of not telling you things because it can change how things turn out.”
Emajean countered, “I’m not important enough to matter to the big scheme of history! I’m an average girl from an average family who has few aspirations beyond marrying László and having a decent life here in Chicago. What about me can possible affect the outcome of world events?”
“I’m not sure,” Celia said, “but I don’t want to take any chances. I think I need to err on the side of caution.”
As the girls neared the corner farthest from their dormitory Celia saw a huge willow tree between two buildings. Standing underneath the tree was a shadow of a figure. Emajean began to walk faster, and Celia suspected she knew who was under the tree.
When Emajean threw herself into his arms, Celia sighed. This is all so romantic but all so wrong for this time in history. How can I help them?
Suddenly, she knew. She stepped towards the embracing couple and then stopped, embarrassed. They pulled away from one another, similarly embarrassed. Girding herself, Celia announced, “we don’t have time to be embarrassed with each other. I’ve just thought of a plan.”
They both turned toward her eagerly, with attentive expressions.
“László , are there any young women your mother knows who would be a good wife for Teodor?” she asked.
“Well yes, there is our neighbor’s older daughter, Hulda. She is considered unmarriageable in Hungary because she worked as a nurse during the Great War. She is closer to Teodor’s age,” he answered.
“What do you mean unmarriageable?” Emajean queried. “Simply because she has helped wounded men?”
“There are many things about Hungarian traditional culture that would surprise you Emajean,” he said. “Including that if a woman has seen any part of a man’s body that should only be seen in marriage, she is considered to have been compromised.”
Seeing Emajean begin to wind up for an argument, Celia broke in. “Emajean! We don’t have time for this. Don’t you see? Hulda would be a perfect person for László to suggest to accompany his mother. She is a nurse, so if László ’s mother has any difficulties with the passage, she can minister to her. She’s a bride for Teodor who can help him make money here by helping Hungarian families with small children. I’ll bet László can even find a doctor who serves that community here who is desperate for someone who can talk to the mothers in their own language with their own traditions!”
Celia could see Emajean’s argument deflate and László’s beautiful smile widen. “Celia! This is a stroke of genius! Teodor cannot possibly object! I will not lose any time in my studies, I will be able to take the time I need to prepare for my exams, and I will be on the list to compete for good positions in the city!”
Emajean added, “and we can proceed with plans to marry! Celia, this is why you’re here! It’s brilliant!”
“Now all I have to do is convince Teodor!” said László.  “I’ll go see him tonight. Good night, dear ladies!” László gave Emajean a quick kiss and hurried away. The girls heard the tower clock begin to chime the half-hour song and hurried towards their dormitory.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mystery Lovers - Unite!

We know we have lots of mystery lovers at Reston Regional Library.  We can tell because you always respond so favorably to our Mystery Sale in February. So this is an event we think you'll enjoy!


Murder to Mil-Spec, an anthology put together by Sisters in Crime who write books and stories that feature the military or veterans, will be the subject for a discussion at 7 p.m. at Reston Regional Library.

They will have the anthology for sale as well, with proceeds being donated to Homes for Our Troops. You MUST check out this organization. They're doing amazing things to adapt or build adapative homes for our troops who return with disabling wounds.  They're working in our own backyard.  Two of the homes will be going up soon in Fredericksburg!

The event on Tuesday evening is free, so come support Friends of the Library and visit with these ladies with a great cause and great stories!

Panelists will include Liz Zelvin and Barbara Goffman.

If you are an aspiring writer with military experience of any kind, you don't want to miss this event!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Emajean Continues

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

Emajean’s background was very different from László's. She was the daughter of a coal merchant. Her father was much older than her mother, and had been married once before. His first wife had died, leaving him a son, Walter, who Emajean’s mother raised as her own. Walter was ten when Emajean was born. Ten years later, baby sister Frances was born. Frances was a sickly child and demanded a great deal of her mother’s attention.
Walter took it upon himself to walk Emajean to and from school each day. Although he was a grown man, in many ways his mind was still that of a child. He was fiercely protective of Emajean and began to interfere with her relationships with her classmates. When she complained to her mother, she was told that she was lucky to have an older brother to look out for her. Overhearing this, Walter appointed himself Emajean’s protector for her own good.
When Emajean was in high school Walter got a job working on a farm just outside the city. Whenever he had an afternoon off, he walked to the street car line and then caught a ride to Emajean’s public school where he waited to walk her home. One afternoon, she came out of the school building and didn’t notice Walter. She and a young man turned to walk down the street together. The young man bent his head to say something to her and took her books from her arms to carry them for her. Walter saw her look at the young man with a sweet smile, and  snapped. He rushed over to the couple, seized the boy by the shoulders and threw him into the street. An oncoming truck was unable to stop in time, and the boy’s leg was broken as the truck ran over it. When the police came to the house that night to question Walter, Emajean’s father told them he had sent Walter far away already, where he would not bother anyone anymore.
From that time, no one in the family mentioned Walter. Emajean could sense that her parents wondered what had gone on between Walter and Emajean in those first couple of years when baby Frances was so sick. But instead of asking, they pretended that he did not exist. The denial of his existence was so complete that Emajean began to wonder if she had indeed done something wrong, whether she had encouraged him in some  way that was wrong. A feeling of responsibility descended upon her, so she joined in the artifice whenever her parents were around, and gradually, their life went on as if Walter never had been part of it.
Emajean never knew where they had sent him, but once, when she was home sick with a fever, she heard the postman call out to her mother as he brougt her mother the mail. She heard “here’s a letter from the Yukon! That’ll be young Walter telling you he’s discovered gold!” Emajean did not hear her mother’s reply. She heard her mother telling her father about it that evening, angrily declaiming the mailman's nosiness. Emajean tried to find such a letter, but was never successful. In the end, all she had to remember her brother by was an old photo, taken when he was working with his father on the coal wagon. In it he was dressed up, and looked out shyly, as if he was unworthy of the time and expense of a photograph.
Emajean graduated from high school with honors, and received a scholarship to study nursing at Loyola University in Chicago. Her first semester she had been a little homesick, but after the first trip home for Christmas, she knew that Lincoln was not where she wanted to live. She returned to Chicago with a zeal for enjoying the city and her college life, changed her name to Jean, and pursued her studies. Although she hoped to find a husband and start a life in Chicago, she never would have dreamed of meeting a man like László.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making that list

Today was the first day of the Holiday Sale and it was a great success! But don't worry -- if you didn't get there today, our elves will be restocking throughout the sale. The last day is December 5.

Also, if you missed Linda McCarthy last night, we're sorry you didn't make it. She was great and there weren't many extra seats!

Don't miss the Sisters in Crime discussing Murder to Mil-Spec, an anthology of mystery stories that feature military personnel or veterans. Proceeds of the anthology go to Homes for Our Troops -- a charity that builds/modifies homes for disabled troops. Register HERE

That will be December 7 ( appropriately enough), so come on out to Reston Library that evening at 7. 

Looking ahead to January -- If you want to be part of a new idea here at Reston, join the Great Decisions group. A limited membership will start meeting on January 11 from 2-4. The first topic under discussion is Rebuilding Haiti -- that's no small decision so come join us!  Again, please register through the library website. The library will provide you a book, but please preregister HERE and be ready to participate!