Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter and a Birthday.

Easter flowers and eggs...
 Of course a hunt for the three boys...
 Like they needed more sugar?
Finally, my sister's birthday. It often falls on Easter.  When she was three we had just moved the day before and were worried about the Easter bunny finding us. Easter morning we looked out a window to the big new yard and saw...I kid you not... a big WHITE bunny. (Never seen again.) We have always believed. The cake was not too neat, but can't argue with chocolate and whipped cream.
More sugar anyone?

More flowers are in bloom over at Today's Flowers #294.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


We were fortunate enough to be invited to a lecture the other night. The Alexandria Library Company, founded in 1794, while no longer a book repository supports a yearly lecture on the subject of life, history or culture of the South.
Over the years many distinguished speakers have appeared. Starting in 1957 they have included the like of Dr. Dumas Malone (Jefferson, Then and Now), 1960 Katerine Anne Porter (Westward Ho!), 1970 S. Dillon Ripley (The Smithsonian in the New Decade), 1994 Roger Mudd (Readin',Writin' on the Road from Richmond), Sarah Booth Conroy (Martha Washington, The First First Lady), Jay B. Winik (April 1865: The Month That Saved America) and this year Dr. John Malcolm McCardell, Jr. (The War That Never Goes Away: The Civil War at 150).

The Alexandria Library Company first met in Gadsby's Tavern and was a subscription library for 125 years. It donated its books to the Alexandria Public Library and serves as a supporter to this day. The lectures are quite the thing, a black tie event.

This got me thinking about my own childhood library. I am a reader. I used to take a book up to the top of a tree and read. I set the dinner table with a book in one hand. I resort to cereal boxes if there is no book on the breakfast table. Drove my Mother crazy. (Not one to talk, she polished off two or three books a week after she retired.)

Our little library was also a subscription library. One of the few left at the time I think.
The Elberon Library was founded in 1900 by (really wealthy) summer residents for both themselves and the local folks. I have a copy of the out of print A History of The Elberon Library 1900-1963 written by Betty Nan L. Obermayer.
Most of the story told here comes from her little book. It's interesting that this whole founding and building of the library was the work of the ladies of the area. I was interested to re read my copy to note that one of the founders, Mrs. Hamilton Fish Kean (nee Katherine Winthrop), had a left hand connection to me.
She was the granddaughter of Moses Taylor and spent the summer in one of the two houses he owned in Elberon at the foot of Park Avenue and Ocean.
She lived with her parents, the Robert Winthrops in the second house. After our house burned I lived in her grandfather's old house then owned by D.O.Evans. This house has been torn down.
Her family built the Memorial Church (1886) on Park Avenue in memory of Moses Taylor the financier and railroad magnate. Her marriage to Hamilton Kean in 1888 connected her with a prominent NJ family. Keansburg was named for Hamilton Kean's brother. The Kean family was active in politics, Hamilton Kean was a US Senator 1929-1935. They still are still active in NJ life, Tom Kean was a recent governor. In 1900 the Keans summered at 1 Ocean Avenue, Deal until Katherine's death in 1944. Another house torn down.

The little library started life in a temporary home at a plumber's supply house on Norwood Avenue.
Members dues in 1900 were $2.00, books kept over a week had a two cent fine per day, one book per family allowed. Non members could enter for a five cent fee and check out a book for five cents with a $1.00 deposit. In 1962 membership was $5.00 for access to the 10,000 books.

In 1909 Mrs. Kean started looking for a permanent home. By 1910 they had moved to the Post Office building. This was still the building for the PO when I was a kid. There's a new post office now.
The ladies of the board wanted to be east of the railroad station for easy access. You can see on the map above where many of the founders lived.
One of the members, Mrs. Clarence Porter, asked her mother Mrs. Charles Cook to donate some land she had inherited and leased to the Washington Wilsons. Mr. Cook was a member of the Tiffany family and had been president of Tiffany's Fifth Avenue. They lived on the SW corner of Lincoln and Ocean. Washington Wilson was president of the shirt company Earl and Wilson, later Arrow Shirt. He owned a park like property bounded by S Lincoln to the corner of Elberon Avenue and back to Lawrence in Deal. His will directed the house to be torn down! The property is where Temple Beth Miriam stands today.
After some confusion the ladies were able to secure a 25 year lease on the land. Not until 1931 was the purchase completed for $150 donated by Mrs. Kean.  The original building plans for a stucco structure proved too expensive at $10,000.  Mrs. Kean stepped in with the services of the design firm of Carrere and Hastings from NYC (NY Public Library, Senate and House offices in DC designers) for a smaller shingle design that cost $7,900.60 of the $8,000 raised in the building fund. May 13, 1911 saw the dedication of the new building.
It was unchanged when my family first belonged. All my family loved the little library. Even my dog Elby who made himself at home with or without us. (Dogs could roam back then).
 Kevin and Elby at 1023 Ocean (note the WWII watch tower)
Librarians Mrs. Jean Goddard (still alive at 95) and Mrs. Marguerite Buckner with her armful of gold bracelets always had a bowl of cool water for him and let him nap under the new book bin seen below.
The addition of a small wing for the children's section on the east opened in 1957. This addition was enlarged to the rear with a small reference room in 1963.
Story hour was a popular stop on our visits home with the boys when they were little.
Books still had my old number in the back.
The Long Branch Public Library has taken ownership so we are no longer a subscription but a mere branch of the public library.