November 10, 2010 I read 'Dewey—The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World' by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter.
In the introduction to the book is a welcome to Iowa, a part of the most important agriculture regions in the world. The Great Plains. The Bread Basket. The Heartland. We meet Dewey (named for Melville Dewey) in Spencer, Iowa at the Spencer Public Library.
By Chapter 3 we don't read about Dewey as much as the farm crisis of 1980, Willie Nelson and Farm Aid.
There are funny stories of Dewey and his love of rubber bands and catnip, but his true love is people.
Chapter 13 is titled "A Great Library." Author Vicki Myron tells us that a great library is one nobody notices because it is always there and it always has what people need. Well, Almont's own Henry Stephens Memorial Library does have what we need and if they don't they will get it for you. As for the library itself, I think it is beautiful, regal and commands our love and respect. The staff is outstanding and helpful. I loved attending the end of the fourth grade in its basement when our old school burned in April, 1926.
Dewey's Spencer Public Library was founded in 1883 in Mrs. H.C. Crarey's parlor. In 1902 Andrew Carnegie granted the town $10,000 for a new library. He was deep into pursuit of giving away his money to worthwhile causes, one was providing grants to small towns for libraries.
The villages of Spencer and Moneta were 20 miles apart but might as well have been different worlds. Moneta never reached 500 in population. In the 1930s it was the gambling capitol of northwest Iowa. The restaurant on Main Street was a speakeasy and there was a gambling hall in the back accessible through a secret door.
That should be enough to whet your appetite to read the book.
Jill Hough let me borrow her copy. We are animals lovers. When she was in high school we enjoyed horseback riding. When I moved from the farm I gave her my kitty, Jigs. He never had it so good...quite a posh apartment.
Thanks to all who have sent cards and prayers. I am on the mend.
Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.