Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving

Growing up  in a dinky town had its advantages. One of them was becoming friends with the town librarian, Loretta Schutte. I'm not sure what her qualifications were, but in addition to running the library proficiently, this community-minded whirlwind was Justice of the Peace, Mrs. Santa Claus, and, later in life, Mayor for many terms. 

For some reason, Mrs. Schutte also gave us Girl Scouts the final okay when we fulfilled the requirements necessary to earn new badges. I remember my mom dropping me off, and I'd run into the library (or her house), where Mrs. Schutte would quiz me, then congratulate me with a big smile before signing her name on some form or other. Looking back, I have no idea why she was the Girl Scout Grand Poobah, except maybe our leaders thought she was just important and intimidating enough to lend legitimacy to the whole matter of badge-earning? We made sure we knew what we were talking about before going for a new badge, that was for sure.

Anyway, she always had a book or three to show me, books she thought I'd find of interest, and she challenged and encouraged my reading from Day 1, especially during summer reading programs. I was recently going through boxes of papers my mom saved from my childhood when I found this little Book Register Folder from the summer after kindergarten . . . I wonder what the prize was for reading all these books.  :)

I had a blast looking up these titles/authors on Amazon. Sadly, I don't remember reading (or hearing read) any of these – it was 50 years ago, after all. But as someone who grew up to write her own books and appreciate those early authors, I was happy to see, among others, Ruth Krauss, Dr. Suess, Hans Christian Anderson, and even Jane H. Yolen's first picture book, See This Little Line? Wowser!

So, Mrs. Schutte, this thanku's for you.

Your steadfast nudging
kindled a lifelong passion
for words and pictures.

Thanks, Mrs. S!

Jill Esbaum


Linda B said...

Just back from NCTE where I actually sat with Jane Yolen, her daughter, and Sara Holbrook and others after dinner one night! What a wonderful thing for those of us there. We were in awe, and had a great visit. Your post about your early memory of this woman is wonderful. There are those who have mentored us well, and we didn't even realize it. Love seeing your list, too, Jill, and the thanku!

Jill said...

That had to be a thrill, Linda! I was able to meet her at a writing conference a few years back, and she was so down to earth and friendly. I hadn't found my little book register yet. Would've been a fun story to share with her.
I love what you said about mentors. So true.


Carmela Martino said...

Love your thanku, Jill, and the story behind it!

Jill said...

Thanks, Carmela!

Carol said...

The librarian at our library, (actually most of the time I went to a bookmobile, a library in a big van-like truck), was Mrs. Holley. I don't remember her having all that much power in town, but I do remember her encouraging my love of reading. How great that you have honored Mrs. Schutte like this!

Jill said...

Thanks, Carol. Isn't it amazing how we begin to realize the influence of those early mentors as we grow older?