Residents reflect on value of books, community libraries

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Robert McCloskey's "Make Way for Ducklings" and "Blueberries for Sal" were among Mary Perko's favorite books as a child. (Contributed)

Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Ducklings” and “Blueberries for Sal” were among Mary Perko’s favorite books as a child. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

“As far back as I can remember, my dad would always read to us before bed,” Mary Perko recalls. “Any book you wanted and as many times as you wanted.”

“He read all the Narnia Chronicles and Tolkien series. I am one of those people that don’t like reading on a machine. I have come to realize that the feel of paper is the equivalent of a security blanket to me!

“My favorite books as a child were ‘Heidi,’ anything by Bill Peet and Robert McCloskey’s ‘Make Way For Ducklings’ and ‘Blueberry Sal.’ I still have these books and read them to my son when he was small.”

Callie Waldrop shared that she grew up on a farm with parents who were teachers.

“There wasn’t much money for travel,” she said. “But books in the home and in the school library. Books took me around the world. Places I thought I would never be. As an adult, I have had the good fortune to travel to many countries I read about.

“I Ioved those orange biographies of famous Americans,” Waldrop continued. “I volunteered in my high school library and in college I worked in the libraries at both Jacksonville State and the University of Alabama. I still read all I can.”

“As an only child growing up in the Cold War era where my father’s job was to maintain the electronics on top-secret radar and other spy-related data collection sites around the U.S., I literally grew up in the back seat of a 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang,” shared Jeff Hood.

“My stash of magazines and books that traveled with me were what I turned to in what was a highly unusual, solitary and sometimes lonely, eight-year stint,” he continued. “Whenever we happened into a town for any length of time, one of the first places my mom took me was to the local library to get a library card and I took full advantage of the miracle that are our community libraries.”

“I spent two tours of duty with my Air Force stepdad overseas,” Roxann Edsall told me. “At that time, there was no AAFES television, so reading was our entertainment. We went to the library once a week. My imagination is so much better than television or movies. I love the freedom to create my own visuals in my head to go with the story. Reading is the best!”