Worm your way into a book
(Note – For input on their start in reading and current trends, we contacted three members of the Muncy Library Board; Evelyn Derrick, William ‘Bill’ Ring and Diane Schneck).
MUNCY – “Look,” was the first word I learned to read,” said Evelyn Derrick a retired English teacher from Muncy High School. Evelyn’s own elementary schooling occurred in her home town of Hughesville and as she described, “I was in Mrs. Helen Gideon’s class where the ‘look — say’ method was used instead of phonetics. Look Jane, see Spot, See Spot run, were the words accompanying the pictures.”
Evelyn went on to say, “The teacher had a small shelf of books in the cloak room which we were invited to borrow, take home, read and return. We students walked home for lunch so I borrowed a book, took it home and read it during the noon hour, then returned it the same day.” The teacher, think- ing as her student had returned the read in such a short time, reiterated that the book was to be read at home, to which the young student replied, “I read it over lunch.”
Evelyn’s experiences were further enhanced when visiting the town’s little library, housed on Hughes- ville’s E. Water Street. The brick covered building served as a fire station and most recently a movie rental shop. “When visiting there, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, reading such books as ‘Nancy Drew,” “Sue Barton Student Nurse,” and the like,” Evelynsaid.
An additional opportunity to get her hands on more books presented itself when her aunt Rosaline Foresman, a Hughesville School educator who at- tended teacher’s institute where sample books were distributed. “My aunt would give them to me, the one I remember most was ‘The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss originally printed in 1938.”
Evelyn graduated from Lycoming College with a degree in English Literature, and moving about taught in other areas taught prior to her 21-year stint at Muncy.
Retired from teaching, Evelyn says she can now read! read! read! The voracious reader often com- pletes a book in one or two days. “I like all types of books including biograyharies and auto-biogray- haries. Just now I’m finishing one about the New York Public Library and waiting for me is former President O’Boma’s latest book,” Evelyn said adding, “Reading can be therapeutic, it can take you any- where you want to be.”
Wanting to see community libraries continue, Evelyn has since 1984, served on the Muncy Library Board, often as its President. As such, she had not noticed a recent increase in lending as due to the pandemic, the site has been either shut down or allowed two persons inside at a time. “I would really like to see the children’s program continue, getting into the reading habit at an early age is a good thing,” said Evelyn.
William “Bill” Ring, another Muncy Library Board member, came to town when entering seventh grade. According to Bill, “The library consisted of a small room at the side entrance of the historical society. When the door was unlocked, even when no one was there, we could go in, browse around, fill in the sign out card and leave.”
Science fiction were Bill’s favorite then with authors such as Isaac Asimov, a Russian born writer and professor of science fiction and popular science who wrote or edited 500 books. Also, Mickey Spillane, who penned crime and detective stories. “That was heavy reading for my age,” Bill said.
“Teacher Irene Withers welcomed me to Muncy schools, she was okay but I really loved Becky Arthur, my elderly geography teacher. After gradua- tion, the library became my school helping me during phases of my career. Whatever I needed to know could be found in a book at the library,” Bill said.
“Eclectic would describe my taste now. Reading Presidents Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” caused me to branch out and read accounts of other political and successful business men.
Bill shared that he like humor as well and bet a donation to the library with co-board member Evelyn Derrick that she would not be able to read Karl Heisman’s book without breaking into laughter. Well, Evelyn lost the bet, phoning me to say she gotten to page 46 and couldn’t control herself any longer.”
At the top of Bill’s stack of books just now is “Who ate the first Oyster,” a catch phrase that lists triv- ia firsts. After that awaits a mystery entitled “The Goodbye Man.”
As a library board member, Mr. Ring served six years in the 1990s and returned again in 2005 to current. “Ours is the best little library in the world. It’s my opinion community libraries will continue and never be a thing of the past. The ambience itself and the interaction with real people makes it a place folks want to be.”
Mr. Ring lauded the library staff by saying, “They are super workers, Linda Strausser has been there a long time, and Corey Breneisen keeps things moving. Change will occur, but I think local libraries will continue to be here.”
Diane Schneck, a 31-year veteran of the Muncy Library board said, “I’m an advocate for libraries everywhere, and they must be the hub of the commu- nity to remain relevant,”
Diane came to Muncy in 1977 and admittedly reads all the time. Sometimes electronically and also through library loans both at Muncy and Philadel- phia from which she retains a library card.
“My first read, at about second grade was ‘Cat in the Hat,’ which I read and memorized. We also had a copy at home and yes, my parents read to me as a child. Common those days were books of fairy tales, probably not as popular now,” Diane said.
During elementary school in the fifties, Diane’s favorites were Nancy Drew and Little Women. She shared she’d seen various movies of the latter includ- ing the most recent one.
The board member’s reading tastes now include choices from the mystery and thriller sections. My favorite reads include the classic “To Kill a Mocking- bird,” which I read four or five times beginning when required in Junior High School. A favorite from the past four or five years is “Where the Crawdads Sing.” I like happy ending type things,” she said.
Something I always do when visiting my grand- children who live out of the area is to visit their library with them. It reminds me of the times I took my little ones to story hour at the library,” Diane said.
She applauds the way her local library has changed with the times and notes it as a hub in the Muncy community. A post within the library lets cli- ental know there are available, “Hot Reads for Cold Nights.”