So the other day, I took a different route home from work. A route that ended up taking me through the neighborhood I grew up in as a child. It’s different now, and not for the better. Many of the houses that were really nice as a child are now rundown, in need of paint and repairs. Many of the old storefronts are either closed or converted to nurseries. Do we have that many children now that we need a day-care on every corner?
It was really rather depressing. But then I came upon the most depressing sight. I stopped at the traffic light and glanced over. There was a sad little red brick building, and it was deserted, boarded up, the lawn no longer cared for. Weeds were growing out of the paving bricks that served as an entrance. And my heart went into my throat when I realized what it was. The sign was long gone, but I knew the place.
It was the Finney Library and it’s where I grew up. I spent my childhood inside the walls of that little red brick building reading. Every Saturday I’d take the bus there or my parents would drop me off and I’d spend the whole day there experiencing the wonders of literacy. I had many adventures in there and met many great friends. The Hardy Boys. The Bobsie Twins. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too.
How could they close it? Where were the children going to go to read, to discover, to learn, to experience the wonders of books?
I drove home with a heavy heart that day, blinking away the tears.
But then, yesterday, I took a different route that took me back through that neighborhood, and I was stopped at another traffic light. I glanced over and where there used to be a restaurant, the Heineman House, now stood a giant two-story, gleaming, glass and steel edifice. The name on the sign was The Washington Park Library.
They hadn’t deprived the children at all. They had merely given them a newer better library, one that probably held three or four times the books the old library did.
I smiled. It made me glad. And when I ended up again stopped by the old Finney, I said, “Rest easy, my old friend. The children are well taken care of.” I think I heard it sigh.