Fifty years is a long time.
Between age 14 and age 64, I had a lot of life experiences. But one experience I didn’t have in those 50 years was visiting Lowville Academy.
And at my 50th high school class reunion, I couldn’t wait to see the changes in the stately three-floor brick building.
To my delight, everything was just as I remembered–the halls, the stairways, my homeroom, the auditorium, and the library, especially the library.
Founded as a private academy in 1808, the school is one of the longest continually-operating schools in New York state.
When I attended, it was called Lowville Free Academy. It now is Lowville Academy and Central School District, still occupies the same historic building, and serves 1,440 north country students (K-Grade 12).
One of the goals of the current Mission Statement is to educate “people who are happy and self-confident.”
What a great goal! I am both happy and reasonably self-confident. Maybe I owe those qualities to my education at Lowville “Free” Academy!
But back to my 50th reunion and our tour of the building. When we got to the library, I left the group to reminisce privately in the room where my love of reading was fostered.
I can’t remember our librarian’s name, or even how she looked, but her excellent book selection will be engraved in my psyche forever.
Fortunately for me at the time, she had chosen a broad selection of Grace Livingstone Hill’s 100 novels. But there was much more.
There were interesting biographies like the story of singer Jenny Lind (“The Swedish Nightingale”) and classic novels like “Lorna Doone.” And there were semi-classics that later became fun movies I still love to watch, like the Penrod stories that introduced me to Booth Tarkington.
Tarkington is one of only three novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. The other two are William Faulkner and John Updike.
That was our librarian’s talent–choosing classics that appealed to teenagers.
Penrod’s name was changed to Wesley in the two Doris Day movies: “On Moonlight Bay” and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.”
After high school, I read Betty MacDonald’s “The Egg and I,” which was made into a movie starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.
Another favourite was “Cheaper by the Dozen” by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, children of the famous efficiency expert. Translated into more than 50 languages, it became a classic film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy.
Steve Martin starred in the remake.
My taste in books has changed over the years. For instance, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a novel or a biography. And in the 1980s, I read almost every book on the non-fiction best-seller list.
Now, I mostly dip into lots of books that hold promise for this column. But I’m still reading!
My lifetime love of reading reminds me of first-century B.C. Roman politician and philosopher Cicero, who said, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
So, now that you have put your summer garden to sleep, listen to the sage and focus on your library!
What book are you going to read next?
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fifty years is a long time.