February 7, 2022
By Arthur H. Gunther III
The search for truth needs a full vocabulary.
I’m am not certain the 8th grader I often noticed at the very small but powerfully packed village library understood that as a flashing neon light against ignorance, but this constant reader was on her way to such knowledge.
She read, this child of parents busy with four other children, because she wanted to. For inner quiet? To get out of the crowded house? To take that seasonal one-mile walk, dodging snow, kicking leaves, spotting emerging daffodils, sweating from hot sun so as to experience all that but also to arrive at the beautifully wood-paneled library where the window seat awaited?
The young girl, of mid-teen years and heading for the changes that they and early adulthood would bring, was already a world traveler. Her books – short stories, novels, fiction, non-fiction, histories, biographies – gave her a first-class ticket even if the ride was sometimes in steerage. And good for that.
The books were varied – she read of grit and determination, of grittiness and misfortune, of love and hate, of hopes and dreams. The words of living, of life.
Her little village library did not hide these books from her or anyone else, and the librarians, constant readers themselves, had wide-open taste, their full accumulation of titles as extensive as the card catalogs in the polished wooden cabinets.
I never spoke to the 8th grader, just noticed her deep in concentration and dreams, comfy on the window seat, on yet another journey in which the raw facts of life, not censored from her eyes, brain and heart, as well as the hopes and achievement of humankind were hers for the reading.
What a vocabulary for truth and against ignorance she was accumulating in the small village library.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.