One of my fondest memories is my first excursion to the Rochester Public Library with my Aunt Cookie.
I recall that as we trudged up the Court Street bridge the air grew heavy, and the scent of the river and roar of the falls filled my senses, and I was relieved when we finally climbed the steps to the Library entrance.
A man at a lectern near the door said, “Hello young ladies, it’s hot out there today.”
We smiled and said, “Hi,” as we pass him and headed up the steps.
The library was cool and quiet and the marble floor shown like glass. What fun it would be to slide across the floor in my socks, but I already knew Cookie would never allow it.
Cookie led me into the room explaining that I could check out two books and that there was a surprise in store for me. I selected a book and sat on a bench flipping through it. Then, as the Grandfather’s clock in the corner chimed one o’clock, the librarian walked to the back of the room and pressed on one of the shelves. She then motioned the children to follow her through the opening that had magically appeared.
I joined the other children as they followed the librarian through the secret passage to the Story Room. Dolls from every country stood in glass cases. Books and puppets and antique toys filled the shelves. Rather than gasp as some children did as they entered, I held my breath and let if out quietly.
All of the children sat cross-legged on the floor forming a half moon around the librarian who sat in a child-sized chair. She leaned forward as if to reveal a secret. Her voice a whisper and no one dared utter a sound. “Once upon a time,” she began. When the librarian finished, we held our upward gaze until she said, “That’s all for now boys and girls, but I’ll be here next week with another story.”