Going on a library hunt

During the summer months, my friends and I walked to the Liberty Branch Library. Each child carried a few books we had read under the shade of a tree or illuminated by a flashlight. We turned the pages faster as our reading improved with practice. “Just one more chapter, please!”  we begged if our parents called us.

Our short legs walked at a meandering pace and it took us at least half an hour to get to our destination. We passed by the elementary school and skirted a side of the city park. There was only one busy street for us to cross at a traffic light.  We dropped our books at the check-in counter.

Mrs. Walker, the children’s librarian, never seemed to tire of questions. Instead she took an immediate interest in whatever we found curious. We knew we could count on her to find out which bird built that nest in our maple tree or what makes lightening flash and thunder boom. She would glide her finger across the rows of books on a shelf and, like magic, pull out the very one that held the answer.

When we heard the bell ring we would gather in front of the basement door and wait until Mrs. Walker led the row of assembled children down the stairs and into the story telling room. We took our places in the metal folding chairs eager for the stories and songs. Some of the stories we repeated almost every time. My favorite was the Bear Hunt. We would slap our hands, alternating left hand then right, to our thighs making pat, pat noises that were supposed to sound like foot steps. Each line of the story that Mrs. Walker told, we echoed.

“Let’s go on a bear hunt!” Mrs. Walker would begin.

“Let’s go on a bear hunt,” repeated the children’s voices.

On cue, we all made the appropriate hand movements and sounds for walking through the tall grass in the field, crossing the bridge, walking through the fallen leaves in the forest, swimming across the river, and squishing through the mud. Finally when Mrs. Walker announced we had reached the deep dark cave we would reach out our hands in front of us and pretend to feel around.

“I feel a wet nose.”

“I feel a wet nose,” as if we all felt it too.

“I feel furry ears.” Mrs. Walker said with concern in her voice.

“I feel furry ears.” we repeated in unison.

“It’s a bear!” Mrs. Walker shouted, “let’s get out of here!”

“It’s a bear!” we shouted, “let’s get out of here!”

This was the signal to reverse our previous steps rapidly, making squishing noises through the mud, swimming strokes crossing the river, crackling through the forest, parting the tall grass and finally opening the door to home. We hheaved a sigh of relief and collapsed as if the race had been run on our legs, not our imaginations  and hands.

After story time we would pick out more books before reversing our steps home. Past the Italian bakery that smelled of warm bread, stopping at the traffic light to cross the street, feeling the cool breeze coming from the park and past the school yard. By the time we got home we would be ready to sit and begin one of the books before we were called to supper.

2 thoughts on “Going on a library hunt

  1. This is a memory to treasure! Thank you so much for sharing it on our library's Facebook page! I will be sharing it with all of our fans.Thank you again.Sincerely,Jean Canosa AlbanoManager of Public ServicesSpringfield City Library

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