Monday, August 1, 2011

Nostalgia from the Large Print Aisle

It was the winter of 1985.  Due to being in the right place at the right time, I scored a  work term at a small town Public Library.  Those were fun, promising days.  I was able to use my creativity, satisfy a sense of order and learn what it was like to corral and calm energetic children during story time.  I also had a sweetheart who made my heart thump and my knees wobble.  Good, tender memories. 

I am not sure if the sense of order came before or after working in the library.  What I am sure of is the enjoyment I had touching, skimming and sorting those books.  The library brought in the local news paper to photograph the three of us participating in the government-funded program. 

Holding a pile of large print books and smiling coyly for the camera.
Although I enjoyed that work term, I did not pursue a career in library sciences since I heard that it would take years of college and the pay was not great.  I did not have the patience, money nor deep enough love to commit to that dream.  I was still not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up!  I later scored a retail job at our local Canadian Tire (Yay!) and box office night work at our local Cinema.  

I eventually saved up money, joined my sweetheart in Ottawa and continued working retail.  Working in "the big city" was a cold disappointment compared to the relaxed pace of a small town.  After a couple of weeks I registered for a word processing course (when a word processor was an actual computer!) and aimed for office work instead.  

A few months later, good Karma - and possibly a pinch of good work ethic from my stint as an office temp - presented me with more opportunities.  The Information Services department in a small organization created an Administrative Support position for me.  I used this thing called a dumb terminal that connected to this thing called a VAX.  I learned about computer operations, how to run batch jobs, perform backups and apply user permissions using ACLs.  I learned how to use a wonderful word processor called "Word-11" before it and other decent products were crowded out by aggressive brands offering WYSIWYG features - on a new piece of hardware with a new operating $ystem, of course.

Even with those windows of opportunity in the working world, dreams of a future with my sweetheart soon faded to black. I distracted my loneliness by making new friends and taking more courses.  I read to escape the pain.

My work life evolved in the exciting world of Information Technology.  In the blur of that late-1980s existence, I soon married a seemingly wonderful man and subsequently co-created three beautiful children. 

IT work provided plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and attend courses.  I became immersed in the world wide web, electronic mail then online collaboration tools. My aptitude and creativity were recognized and nurtured by a succession of superiors.  The pay has helped me as an eventual single parent.  I have been a valued contributor to the objectives of my work family.

I am toying with the idea of owning a cell phone (yes, I'm one of those hold-outs) or committing to a smart phone with Internet access.  I still cannot justify the cost and possible distractions.  Those small screens do not appeal to my reading preferences.  I have come to realize that my electronic skills, my love of pen & paper and appreciation of the QWERTY keyboard for creative writing will soon be augmented by the pinching, stroking and zooming techniques of a tablet. (A-hem... my birthday is coming up this month.  Nudge, nudge.)

In June my oldest child graduated from university (insert warm, gushy feeling).  I satisfied her gift request by purchasing an Amazon Kindle.  This device can "hold" thousands of public domain books.  This seemed perfect since she is an avid reader and loves the classics.  At least that is a small consolation as I lament the future of the printed word and methods we choose for publishing, writing and reading. 

Regardless of the potential for massive data storage and oodles of options for reading devices, I still enjoy the tangible book.  I like holding it, dog-earing special sections - gasp! - and - the horror! - writing notes in the margins.  Not that I would do this in books I borrow from the library but I find it interesting to see scrawls from previous clients.

Perhaps you do too? 


Thanks for reading this far.  If you like my writing style, consume some excerpts from my novel "The Year of the Rabbit".  Sera Fletcher, the main character loved to read and volunteer in her library.  The library also served as a refuge from the loneliness of losing her best friend.  


  1. I'm working through a couple of actual, genuine books whose pages are made from - get this - paper.
    There is nothing like having a good book, is there? Thanks for sharing some of your personal and good memories. :D

  2. Hi, Ruth person! Thanks for dropping by and indulging with me :o)