I meet ‘Library Lil’ at the Handley Library – and (almost) take a bite of a huge red apple

27 August 2014

Oh, I had so much fun today with Rosemary!

Rosemary and Basil live in the lovely town of Winchester, which is situated in the Shenandoah Valley. The town is home to a University and a Conservatory. Perhaps my friends will take me for a bit of a tour of the town one day.

This is the beautiful Handley Library
This is the beautiful Handley Library

“We’re going down to the the Old Town of Winchester today, Flat Kathy,” Rosemary told me at breakfast this morning. “It is a charming place, you’ll see. There are lots of little shops and independent retailers, where we can spend hours browsing for lovely things to buy, and a whole range of different restaurants, where we can have a bite to eat. I’m sure you will really like the old architecture, and the historical buildings and museums. There’s so much to explore. And there’s often something happening, like an outdoor concert or festival or live music event… But today, we’re going to visit the beautiful Handley Library.”

Flat Kathy poses outside Handley Library
Flat Kathy poses outside the Handley Library

When we arrived in the Old Town, Rosemary pointed out the library with its unusual green dome.

She explained, “The Library opened in 1913, having been built with money left to the city of Winchester by Judge John Handley of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The instructions in his Will were that the funds be used to build a public library, for the free use of the people of Winchester forever. The Library was extensively renovated in 2001. And they celebrated their 100-year anniversary last year, in 2013.”

Rosemary registers for a library card
Rosemary registers for a library card – with some assistance from Flat Kathy

Wasn’t it generous of the Judge to donate money for the establishment of a library? As I posed happily in front of the entrance to Judge John Handley’s library, I was wondering whether there would ever be a Flat Kathy Library. Even if it’s just in a small town somewhere. I would like really that. But I’m afraid that I don’t have any money to donate, at least not at the moment.

We went inside the Library, where Rosemary registered for a library card on the computer. I did my best to help her. Luckily, I am a bit familiar with computers, because I’ve been blogging for a while.

Once we had registered, we walked around the library for a while. Rosemary wanted to familiarise herself with the layout so that she knows where to find the books she likes. They have hundreds and hundreds of books; I was really impressed! We also had a look at the books that are recommended for summertime reading. 

There are all kinds of books for summer reading
There are all kinds of books for summer reading

Suddenly, something caught my eye.

This plaque explains about Library Lil
This plaque explains the story of Library Lil

“What is that sculpture?” I asked softly (I had been told that you must be very quiet in a library), and nudged Rosemary, who was leafing through a book.

The librarian, who was standing nearby, had heard me asking the question.

“That is ‘Library Lil’,” she said, smiling at me. “Do you know the story of Library Lil?”

I shook my head.

“I’m afraid I haven’t read that many books,” I admitted, feeling a bit sheepish. “I have read the book about Flat Stanley though, and Anne of Green Gables… and my friend Reggie in South Africa had a whole lot of travel books that I read too… But I haven’t read many children’s books.”

“Well, the story of Library Lil is wonderful, Flat Kathy,” said the librarian. “It was written by Suzanne Williams, who is a prolific author of children’s books. It’s an exciting tale about a librarian in a small town who gets all the people in the town to read – even the members of a scary bikers’ gang. I think you’ll love it.”

Flat Kathy next to the bronze sculpture known as Library Lil
Flat Kathy next to the bronze sculpture known as Library Lil

“Why don’t we take a photo of you next to Library Lil?” suggested Rosemary. “Come, Flat Kathy. Sit on the bench next to her.”

So that is how I got a photograph of me next to Library Lil.

When we left the library, Rosemary told me to keep my eyes closed for a few moments, because she had a surprise for me. I held firmly onto her hand, as we stepped outside, and crossed a road.

“Alright, Flat Kathy,” she said, “now you may open your eyes again.”

We were standing right in front of a humungous red apple. It looked shiny, and good enough to eat, but I realised that it wasn’t a real apple.

“Rosemary!” I gasped. “Look at that!”

She laughed, pleased to see that I liked her surprise. “Would you like me to take your picture next to it?”

“Oh yes, please…,” I said. “I’ve never seen such a huge apple before. Why did they put it here?”

“Winchester is a market town,” Rosemary told me, as we stood in front of the huge red apple. “This area is well known for growing excellent quality apples. The town puts up big apple sculptures all over the town, to commemorate the famous Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in April/May each year. About 250,000 people come to this Festival, so you can imagine how busy this town is at that time. People travel here from all over the world, and they even close the schools for two days! This apple was part of a parade float during the Festival one year, but has been on this plinth right here since then.”

Now isn’t that fascinating?

Flat Kathy poses next to the biiiiig red apple that is part of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Flat Kathy poses next to the biiiiig red apple that is part of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

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