Nostalgia, The Library and Sharky
noun: nostalgia; plural noun: nostalgias
- a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
I was having coffee this morning and thinking about what I wanted to write about. Nothing came to mind. I mean absolutely nothing. I kept trying to find a trigger. Something I could grab hold of. A word, a thought, a sign. Nothing. I hate when that happens. It can be hard for a writer to get going sometimes. It’s hard to grasp that tiny piece of thread to start the unwinding of the tale to tell. For me anyway. I would imagine writers are like that. Beginning ones. Me ones.
I just let my mind go. I was curious to see where it would end up. Ahhhh, the library. The Carnegie Library. The kid library. I remember spending hours and hours at that library. I loved the card on the inside cover of the book. The librarian stamping the due date, with the rubber stamper, filled with blue ink. I wandered for what felt like hours, looking and searching for books.
The library was officially opened in March of 1905. My birthday month. I knew there was special meaning to this place. It served as the public library until 1972, when operations were moved to the Rawlins Municipal Library.
I visited the library mostly on Saturdays. Walking through the doors and down the steps. The smell that immediately hits. That dark, damp, book smell. I LOVE the smell of books. I walked down the creaky stairs to the kid section. Just walking and looking and feeling at peace. Books, books and more books. The key to learning. The key to life. The key to disappearing.
By definition, that is exactly what the library meant to me. Happy personal associations. I loved it there. The librarian, whose name I cannot remember, was a tiny little lady. I can see her walking, she had distinctive walk, kind of a shake to the head as she walked and her heels clippity-clopping on the hardwood floor. She always wore a dress, tied at the waist and always a print. She had glasses too. Stereotypical librarian, I suppose.
Our house was built in 2000 and we completed the moving in process in 2001. We had an amazing carpenter. He was meticulous with detail. Very OCD if you will. He knew how we appreciated the past. We loved old treasures from long-forgotten, abandoned buildings in town. We have columns in our house from the old Flame Room. We went with him and dug through the upper floor of the building hunting for the treasures. His name was Sharky. He kept an eye on us. He noticed how much these things meant to us and how much the history meant to us.
He built the mantel for our fireplace and he built the bases for those columns. The craftsmanship is stunning. His work ethic like no other. Meticulous, precise and thorough come to mind when remembering the building of the house.
During the process, he absolutely floored us with something I will never forget. He told us he had salvaged the shelves from the old Carnegie Library. He asked if we wanted him to build our home library with them. Ummmm, yeah! They are a true work of art. The wood is gorgeous and so smooth. Not a bump or a flaw anywhere on them.
Every time I am in our library, which is where I sit right now, as it has pretty much turned into my home work space, I look at those shelves and I am reminded of the nostalgia of my youth. I am reminded how much I loved that library. He brought my past to life in those shelves. It was a true gift. He was a true gift.
Sharky passed away on February 7, 2014. He was 62. Sharky was his nickname. His true name was Mark Drees. I still see him roaming through the house, t-shirt and jeans, pencil behind this ear and giant cup of coffee. His voice was distinctive. His laugh was contagious. The talent was crazy amazing. I pulled up his obituary and in reading through it was reminded of the history surrounding his work. So many places lucky to have his touch. He is definitely missed.
This post started out as the library and turned into the craftsmanship of a man we were very luck to have met. Thanks for the history Sharky. We will never forget it.