And so it comes to pass that my hometown library has decided to close every Friday due to budget cuts. The Wheaton Public Library has long been closed on summer Sundays, which means that all told it will now be closed about 65 days a year. Those summer Sunday closings felt tortuous to me as a girl old enough to walk alone to the library alone but not old (or savvy, industrious, or rich) enough to do much else.
I got two important things from the Wheaton Public Library.
First, obviously, books. “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” and “Deenie” and, over and over, all of the Anastasia Krupnik books. Junior biographies of Judy Garland and Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Later I ventured into the grown-up aisles for John Irving and Anne Tyler, and then onward and upward from there. So, that was good.
And the library also helped me figure out to be a grownup, which I think is probably also quite typical. When my first sex-ed class in 5th grade left me with questions*, I snuck books that were meant to help parents to explain sex to their children into a stall in the downstairs bathroom and pored over them. A few years later I would hang out in the magazine section and read back copies of YM, Sassy, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, and Teen in hopes of figuring other things out: how to do my hair, how to apply make-up, how to kiss. (Confidential to pre-teen Ruth: Don’t worry about that last skill, you won’t need it for yeeeeears.) (Confidential to teen Ruth: PUT DOWN THE SUN-IN.)
So the Wheaton Public Library taught me to read and helped teach me how to be a grownup, and this is the place where I should lament its dwindling resources. Which, sure, I lament! But the fact is that now I almost always buy my books instead of borrowing them and therefore have no real right to say anything about this particular library’s evolution – cough cough, massive recent expansion — let alone the evolution of The Library. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t lived in Wheaton for almost eight years now.
Anyway, I have much bigger problems: The grammar school I attended for 9 years is moving to a completely new building … in WINFIELD. I mean, I took it in stride when Front Street Cocina moved to Hale Street, when Gary Wheaton Bank changed its name to First Chicago, and when Wheaton Bible Church moved to West Chicago, but Wheaton Christian Grammar School moving to Winfield is just too much! What’s next, Wheaton Bowl heading to Schaumberg?! Am I right? Is anyone still reading this? Hello?