Something Borrowed, Something New

In Washington County, Maryland, where I spent my tender years, we couldn’t boast of having the world’s largest ball of yarn, but we could proudly say we were home of the nation’s (or according to the letterhead below, home of the world’s) first book wagon.

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In 1982, I wrote to the head librarian inquiring about a career in library science. She kindly replied on this stationery.

I didn’t grow up during the time of the covered wagon—or Washington County’s book wagon—but I do recall, on more than one occasion, the Washington County Bookmobile making its way up the dusty drive to my aunt and uncle’s farmhouse in nearby Keedysville, Maryland. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this was the way that many busy, rural folks got their books.  …And the Bookmobile still travels ’round the county today, focusing its services on children and senior citizens who might not otherwise have access to library materials.

The Bookmobile didn’t travel to my family’s neck of the woods. Since the books didn’t come to us, we went to the books. Several times a week, in fact. (My two sisters, my mother, and I were keen on reading!)

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LtoR: Lisey, me, and Beth reading our latest batch of books from the Washington County Free Library. circa 1970s

We usually frequented the Boonsboro branch of the Washington County Free Library, which at the time was a converted old bank building. At least once a month, we took a trip into town (Hagerstown, that is) to the main branch. Through the eyes of a youngster, the main branch seemed huge and formal—a special occasion place as I progressed from picture books to Nancy Drew books. With the passing of time, the main branch became nearly a daily destination as, during my college years, I advanced to the reference section and the study carrells on the second floor.

The main branch that I came to know so well on South Potomac Street was recently demolished and replaced (on the same site) with a brand new building. Its grand opening was Saturday, October 5, 2013. While I was in Hagerstown visiting my parents earlier this month, Mom and I stopped by to check out the new library, which is referred to as the Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Branch.

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The United States, Maryland, and Washington County flags proudly wave outside the new main branch of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland.

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The artwork behind the checkout counter of the Washington County Free Library is a nod to the past.

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The spiral staircase is a central and serviceable feature of the new Alice Virginia and David W. Fletcher Branch of the Washington County Free Library. Straight overhead is an expansive skylight rotunda. Fantastic!

It’s a beautiful, light and airy library to be sure, yet I suspect that the next time I dream of rows and rows of Nancy Drew books—which I am known to do from time to time—their bindings will beckon to me from the grey metal shelves of the old, musty main branch.

Rural Planes

Is it just me or is it unusual to see a fleet of military aircraft lined up alongside grazing cattle?  Such was the scene in my neck of the woods in the days of yore.

Fairchild-built C-123’s sit in the background as cattle graze near the company’s main plant off of Rt. 11 north of Hagerstown in 1957. (Source: ‘Pegasus’ August of 1957 via Cracker Barrel Magazine’s Feb/Mar 2007 issue, back cover)

From 1931 to 1984, Fairchild Aircraft was one of the chief employers in Washington County, Maryland.  The workforce was a diverse group – younger and older, male and female – of various levels of education.  (At one time or another, three of my grandparents enjoyed the paychecks that Fairchild provided.)

Founded by Sherman Fairchild, the aircraft company was a leader in aerial mapping and photography equipment, and it produced the first U.S. aircraft (the Fairchild FC-1) with a fully enclosed cockpit and hydraulic landing gear.[1]

Over the years, Fairchild manufactured several more models for the military, including the C-123 Provider, a military transport aircraft built for the United States Air Force and later used by the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Aircraft

Wednesday’s Word: Cynosure

Cynosure, (pronounced either sine-eh-shur or sin-ne-shur), is a noun that means focal point or center of attraction.  It can also mean a guide.  In the latter sense, the North Star is an example of a Cynosure.  In the (rather grainy, sorry!) photo below, the butterfly (I hope!) is the cynosure, or point of focus.

This particular butterfly sculpture is a cynosure of art located outside the Boonsboro Free Library. It is entitled “Flight of Ulysses” and is one of two “Take Flight” butterfly sculptures that grace my hometown of Boonsboro, Maryland.  These and other butterfly sculptures around the Hagerstown (MD) area are designed to “benefit the Barbara Ingram School of the Arts and celebrate community transformation.”[1]

“Flight of Ulysses” on the front lawn of the Boonsboro Free Library (Boonsboro, MD)


[1] http://www.hagerstownmagazine.com/articleDetail.aspx?id=1122