In my mind, it’s Saturday, September 11, 1964. My family has just moved into base housing on Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas. Dad had my little brother and me get in our 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 car. It was a beautiful Turquoise Metallic. Our destination was the base library. We have set off on a short drive to get my brother and me our first library card.
I kept my library card in my bedroom. Mother was not going to keep it for me in her purse. The card means I am old enough to pick out any book I want. I thought this was kind of cool.
We were given a tour of the library. We had the Dewey Decimal System explained. We visited the book stacks with the children’s, science fiction, history and biography books.
I remember dad had us walk back home from the library where he made sure we knew the way and made it safely.
We visited the library several times a week. It was a twenty-minute walk to the library. We always had adventures en route to the library, but not so much on the trip home. We couldn’t wait to get back to the house. At home, we could dip into the adventures between the book’s covers.
I remember how hush-hush the libraries were back then. It seemed all speech ended at the door. There were no computers in libraries in the 1960’s. No one was sending text messages or taking pictures on a cell phone. I can still hear the swishing of card catalog drawers being opened and closed, the squeak of the book-cart wheels announcing the slow but sure restocking of shelves. They were some of my favorite sounds.
I recall all those book spines announcing the titles covered with the plastic covers. I would walk down the aisles looking, gawking.
Suddenly, there they were. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and Dandelion Wine. I think I heard Handel’s Messiah’s Hallelujah Chorus when I found the books. I started reading both. I have been a fan of Bradbury and science fiction since that time.
I still remember the woman librarian’s pencil. It had a little stamp thingy attached to it. There was a pocket glued to the front of the book. In it was a card. She took the card out of the pocket wrote my name down on that card. She filed it away. She then stamped the due date on the slip of paper inside the pocket glued to the front page of the book. I had the books for two weeks. Two adventurous weeks!
At home, I would retire to my bedroom and read for hours. I would be it the cupola orchestrating the lights of town turning off at night. I would experience the rocket winter of traveling from Ohio to Mars.
I traveled to all those places for free in my mind. The base library became a favorite destination for me. Libraries are still a place of refuge and solitude for me and hundreds of military brats.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About Suicide.com, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His books Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.