The crunch of gravel under the tires jolted me back to reality. I parked my Camry in front of the one-hundred-year-old library. My eyes were drawn to the ivy-covered walls where red brick peeked through, memories drifted in. It was 1957 again.
I was a shy, seven-year-old in second grade when my classmates and I first entered through the ivied doors. Every two weeks our teacher, Miss Robinson, led our little group down the street to this place of enchantment.
Throughout the next ten years of elementary and high school, books whispered their magic to me. I wondered at the adventures of Peter Rabbit, held my breath amid the escapades of Nancy Drew, and fell in love with Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. My teenaged years found me at the magazine section of the library to read the latest Beatle’s news.
Tomorrow the repository’s treasures would be transferred to the new library a few miles away. But tonight we, the fundraising committee, would celebrate and thank the faithful souls who contributed monies and worked long hours to help make our community’s dream come true. Instead of happiness I felt saddened at the thought of a new building. This one held so many joyful memories for me.
“Hi Brenda, are you ready to go inside?” Debbie Miller, another committee member, asked as she touched my arm through the open car window.
“Huh? Oh, hi Deb, how are you?”
“Sorry, did I disturb you?”
“Oh no, my thoughts were somewhere else.”
Debbie and I entered the library and sat in the second row. Tom Evans, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee, began to speak.
“First I’d like to say thank you for your endless hours of fundraising. Without each one’s help, we could not have attained our goal. I know the community is thankful.”
The spirited audience clapped along with whistles and shouts of “way to go.”
“Next I’d like to recognize one of our former elementary teachers who has supported the library for fifty years. Mrs. Susan Robinson Mitchell."
A gray-haired, bespectacled woman stood, smiled, and faced the audience as they cheered.
“Debbie...there she is, Miss Robinson. Can you believe it?” I whispered.
“She sure is old.”
“So are we.”
Ten minutes later Tom finished his speech.
Debbie and I made our way through the crowed to Mrs. Mitchell and introduced ourselves.
“Miss Robinson, excuse me, I mean Mrs. Mitchell. I’m Brenda Morgan. I was in your second grade class.”
“Brown eyes gazed into blue ones; she smiled, grabbed my hand and said, “Brenda, it’s so good to see you again. How are you?”
“I’m fine, Mrs. Mitchell. This is another student of yours, Debbie Miller.”
“I’m sure you don’t recall me Mrs. Mitchell.”
“I do indeed remember you.” She said, as she shook Debbie’s hand. “You used to bring me flowers from your mom’s garden with the roots attached. I always wondered if your mother knew what you did.” Mrs. Mitchell chuckled.
“No, she thought the rabbits were the culprits.”
We all laughed and I commented, “You have a good memory, Mrs. Mitchell.”
“The reason I remember you girls so well is your class was the last one I ever taught. I married in June and moved to Cleveland. My son and daughter still reside there.”
"Mrs. Mitchell, for years I’ve wanted to thank you for teaching me to pray. You were the first person to introduce me to God. I trusted Christ as my Savior at age thirteen.”
“How wonderful, Brenda. My father and husband were ministers. One of my missions as a schoolteacher was to teach my students there is a God and how to pray. In the late fifties teachers could speak of God in the classroom but not in this day and age, I’m sorry to say.”
“Yes, I’m afraid our country has changed for the worse.” Debbie commented.
“Mrs. Mitchell, will you be in town a few more days? I’d like to have you come to my house for lunch. You’re invited too, Debbie.”
“Oh yes, dear. I would love to. We have much to discuss.”
The three of us exchanged our telephone numbers. We saw each other at the dedication of the new library the next day where I learned Mrs. Mitchell planned to move back to Madison and live with her sister. Two days later we met for lunch at my house. We continued this tradition until Miss Robinson, I mean Mrs. Mitchell, died three years later.
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