Planet of the Apes Made Me a Librarian

By Terry M. 

As a young man, a boy really, I LOVED the original Planet of the Apes movie.One Saturday afternoon, I was watching it for the umpteenth time and for some reason this time, I did not want it to end. It was that day, that maleficent fall almost snowy day I became a credit reader. While reading the closing credits, I made a discovery – I discovered that the film was based on a book, by Pierre Boulle. I immediately jumped up and ran throughout the house in search of my father. I found him in the kitchen. The next room over from which I had originally started my paternal hunt. With an outrageous sense of urgency I yelled, “Dad we have to go to the mall.” He withdrew his head from the refrigerator and while slowly turning to face me he closed the fridge door. Once we were face to face he casually tossed the bag o’ turkey he had retrieved on the kitchen table and said, “Why?”

I became apoplectic…and yet managed to calm myself enough to say , “MY MOVIE, its based on a book and I want to read it!” It goes without saying he knew what I meant by MY MOVIE, or upon reflection, he didn’t care.

So there we were in the kitchen, I was practically soiling myself with glee and unnecessary fervor and my dad, who was about to make himself some well deserved Saturday afternoon the chores are done lunch. Staring at me. Staring at the youngest of six children he had to put through college. After a moment of what I can only assume was significant borderline religious contemplation he said, “Why don’t we go to the library, they’ll have it, they have everything.”
Frankly I didn’t care weather I owned the book, I just wanted to read it. It would be another ten or so years before bibliomania lock me in her vociferous grasp.

“Sure, let’s go. I’ll meet you in the car.” “Wait!” he exasperated, “Ask your brothers & sisters if they need anything to go back.” Dad was not down with overdue fees. They did not…or so I assume , I did not ask. While driving to our local branch my father started to talk. “You know there are two really terrific things about this country.”

Uh oh. “Yeah, Dad? You know if you hurry you can make this light.” He exhaled as he applied the brake saying, “No seriously, think about it. For .29 cents you can put an envelope into a blue box sitting on the street at one end of the country and in a couple of days its going to go to the other side of the country exactly where you wanted it to go!”
“Ah… yeah”
“That is amazing! TWENTY-NINE CENTS!”
You know what the second thing about America is that is equally amazing?”
“The public library. Think about it. Anybody, I don’t care if you are black or white, rich or poor, PhD or never made it out of the third grade, anybody ANY-BODY can walk into any public library and LEARN anything they want!” He waited for that 13 year old me to be suitably impressed, he is still waiting.”
“Seriously you cannot say that about a lot of countries on this planet.” Because I am a little on the denser side of life, it took me about 5 years into my career as a librarian for me to figure out that car ride, that trip to bountiful, is why I am a librarian today. Well that, and the fact that for 9 months out of the year it is colder than it is warmer, and I am not trudging through the snow to bring you your mail – 90% of which you’re going to toss in the garbage.

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