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Monday, May 30, 2011

All That is Bitter & Sweet by Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd
with Maryanne Vollers
All That is Bitter & Sweet
Ballantine Books, April 2011
ISBN 978-0-345-52361-7
432 pages

Autobiographies and memoirs by "stars" are not my cup of tea. I'm pretty sure the last one I read was Barbara Mandrell's Get to the Heart: My Story in 1990.

I've always admired the work of Ashley Judd--both her film work and her advocacy of feminism--but I didn't know the extent of her feminist social justice work until reading this memoir. She travels the globe doing outreach and education, she's on the board of directors of Population Services International (PSI), and recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School. I missed the pre-publication advertising for the book and ran into it at the bookstore where I work. Curious, I picked it up to familiarize myself with it, as I do with as many of the new releases as I'm able, and found myself not wanting to put it down. So I took it home.

Judd writes movingly about the pain and beauty of her childhood and young adult years--the abuse, the isolation, the dysfunction, the anger, the depression--and how she eventually arrived on her path toward recovery.  Her description of going through a treatment program and her on-going daily practice is helpful for others on their own journey toward healing and health. If you're the type who ONLY believes in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, this book might not be for you. But if you're working a program, on a spiritual path, or have come to question whether you can truly do it all by yourself, this book might be helpful.

Interwoven with Judd's private experiences are her more public experiences as an advocate for social justice particularly for girls and women enslaved in the sex industry. Initially I was squeamish about reading her experiences of visiting brothels around the world (don't get me wrong, it is disturbing reading), but Judd writes about her visits and activism with such a sense of love that I was left with a sense of hope for the world. Judd believes in and has seen that real change is possible through the implementation of practical programs aimed to raise women out of poverty (one of the main reasons for sexual slavery). The way to do this is through programs that address the multiple, critical needs that people have rather than just one issue at time (AIDS, malaria, unsafe drinking water, malnutrition, addictions, working wages, places to live, attitudes towards women's equality, etc).

Judd's struggle to heal her pain and her passion for creating positive change in the world are both inspiring. When I need encouragement, I'll return to All That is Bitter & Sweet. It has also given me a list of people (like Apne Aap) and organizations to learn about. I hope this won't be the last book we see from Ashley Judd.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Library: Milford, CT (old & new)

Taylor Memorial Library
5 Broad Street
Milford, CT 06460

Built: 1894
Built by: Henry Taylor as memorial to his mother
Designed by: Joseph W. Northrup
Style: Richardsonian Romanesque
Inspired by the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts which was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson
Date visited: April 30, 2011

Milford, CT was home base during our exploration of the south-west portion of Coastal Connecticut in late April/early May. I'd been there several times before, about twelve years ago, but under the sad circumstances of my aunt's death. In the ensuing years it seems like Milford has gotten busier, but the area around the Green is still charming.
A dream library.

The Taylor Memorial Library is in the heart of old Milford. The reference librarians on duty at the new library didn't know anything about the old library building, which I find so surprising because I assume librarians would be into the history of their town's library. Yes, I know what happens when one assumes and that not everyone is into old buildings.

The old library building now houses the Milford Chamber of Commerce and it was closed on the morning we bummed around Milford (a Saturday). I'd love to see the inside and hope they haven't messed with the orginal features too much. You can read a description of the inside here and see some interior pictures here from the 1978 application for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

These windows practically beg for someone to sit inside and read away a rainy spring day!
Its like entering the tunnel to wisdom.
The lights are not original to the building, but they do add some dramatic flair.
Milford Public Library
57 New Haven Street
Milford, CT 06460

Contains 118,308 volumes
Circulation: 281,581 items per year

The new Milford Public Library is across the street and down the block from the old library.  It isn't as pretty on the outside as the old library, but it is open and spacious on the inside with plenty of natural and artificial lighting.


Spring flowers were blooming.



 
Seating area around the open staircase.

Art being installed on the landing between the first floor and lower level.
Part of the Friends of the Library book sale.
If anyone out there would like to share some recent pictures of the interior of the Taylor Memorial Library building I'd be happy to post them.

Library: James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

James Blackstone Memorial Library
758 Main Street
Branford, CT  06405
(203) 488-1441
Visit the library website to read about the history of the library.
Date visited: April 30, 2011

The information below is taken from a historical facts handout given to me by the circulation librarian. She was very nice and obviously proud of her library.  I'm often surprised at how reticent some librarians are when asked about the history of their library, so it was refreshing to meet someone who happily shared her passion for her library.
    Mr. Blackstone
  • Built by Timothy B. Blackstone (1829-1900) as tribute to his father, James Blackstone (1793-1886)
  • Construction began: 1893
  • Dedication: June 17, 1896
  • Cost: $300,000
  • Architect: Solon Spencer Beman
  • Style: Grecian Ionic; details modeled on the Erechtheum of the Athenian Acropolis 
  • Initial holdings: 5,000 books
  • First librarian: Arthur M. Tyler
  • Current holdings: over 80,000 books, periodicals, and audiovisual materials.
The public library in Branford, Connecticut is one of the best library surprises that I've had so far in my travels.  My partner and I were exploring coastal Connecticut and although we regularly stop at libraries or places of literary and/or historical interest, the library of Branford was not on our radar. To be honest, decidedly un-romantic, and rather base, nature was calling and we saw a sign for the library and headed in that direction.

The library building itself is impressive from the outside--the facade looks more like a small museum than a library, even a nice Carnegie Library--so we knew this would not be an average library (whatever that means), but even after walking up the stairs, between the marble pillars, and through the bronze doors, we were not prepared for what we saw when we walked in. It was surprise after pleasant surprise throughout the entire building.

The front steps are 39 feet wide, exterior is Tennessee marble.
The dome is solid concrete and roofed with marble eight inches thick. The rotunda is 44 feet in diameter and five feet high. Murals painted by Oliver Dennett Grover. Each panel represents a significant time period and/or innovation in the production of written works.
Gathering the Papyrus
Records of the Pharaohs
Stories from the Iliad
Medieval Illumination
Venetian Copper-Plate Printing
First Proof Guttenberg Bible
The Franklin Press
A Book Bindery -- 1895
There are eight medallion portraits in the dome. Pictured above are Emerson and Hawthorne, two of my favorites. The other 19th century literary luminaries featured are Harriet Beecher Stowe, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and William Cullen Bryant.
The mosaic floor tiles are marble and were designed in Paris. This one is directly below the dome.

Many of the light fixtures are original and were installed for use as gas or electric; when the library opened in 1896 it had 660 electric lights.
Back staircase with bust of Blackwell in the center.
Reference/periodical research area.
Stairs leading from reference area to lower level.
Cafe/refreshment area on the lower level.
Directional signage with a nice literary touch. I think such simple things make libraries fun and help to foster a love of literature.
So now I come to the part of this post which contains a topic I never imagined myself writing about: a library bathroom. But check it out--the bathroom doors and their hardware seem like they could be original. I didn't think to ask when I was there if they are original, I just sort of assumed they were. Thinking about it, though, it struck me that the teenagers of Branford must be a rather civilized species if this truly is original hardware and doors. That's 115 years without names being carved into the doors or hardware being ripped off its foundation or stuffed with gum or other teenage refuse. Perhaps my perspective is skewed due to coming of age in an urban environment.

I'll end this post with some pictures from the James Blackstone Memorial Library's women's room:

The open or engaged notice doesn't always line up, but it still functions at some level.
Inner turn lock still works.
If you're anywhere near Branford, CT and love libraries or 19th century architecture, the James Blackstone Memorial Library is a must see.

Stay tuned!  In June I plan on visiting another Blackstone library.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Revisiting Stephen King's Carrie

First edition cover
0-385-08695-4
199 pages

I re-read Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie (1974), last weekend. It’s been on my mind for a few months ever since my sister made some reference to it at a family dinner. I don’t remember the context or even what she said, but the book got stuck in my head. On Friday I found myself detouring to the library on the way home.

I assumed they’d still have it in the stacks and if it was checked out I was feeling obsessive enough to just download the ebook.  But my public library came through for me yet again and I drove home with a jacket-less 1974 maroon & black hardcover copy on the passenger seat next to me. The frayed edges of the book matched the tan seat color.  (It's not a first edition, but should you have a first edition moldering away in your basement you could sell it for $500-$7,500.)

It’s pleasantly surprising when an "older" book not only stands the test of time, but is also relevant to the present. Other than a few references that younger readers might not get (78 rpm vs 33 1/3, "greasily smoking road pots," and casual Cold War era remarks about fear of bombs and missiles) Carrie stands the test of time.  As King's first published novel, it isn't as smooth as some of his subsequent works, but it's still a good read.  If you’re of a certain age, you no doubt remember Carrie.  Chances are good that you either read the book or saw the 1976 movie staring Sissy Spacek and you probably have at least one scene that readily comes to mind. Perhaps your recollection of the story and its characters depends on your own experience of high school and/or your teen years. Some remember Carrie as a freak; others felt sorry for her.

Carrie is relevant today due to the issue of bullying. If you don't know the story, Carrie is a sixteen year old girl raised by a widowed mother who practices her own warped, abusive, and violent brand of Christianity. Carrie wears only homemade dresses with long hems that are decades out of style and their home is covered with pictures depicting Biblical scenes as well as a four foot crucifix. Carrie has been cruelly picked on by the children in her community since her very first day of school. She’s the social outcast, the one that it’s 'okay' to torment.

The novel opens with Carrie in the shower after gym class where she gets her period for the first time. She's terrified because she thinks she's bleeding to death. The other girls immediately start tormenting her, yelling at her to "plug it up, plug it up" and throw tampons and sanitary pads at her. A teacher comes in and breaks things up. She slowly realizes that Carrie, at the rather late age at 16, is experiencing her first period and, even more amazingly, that the girl doesn't understand what's happening to her. Carrie is sent home from school and is relieved to find herself home alone, at least for a few minutes, before her mother marches through the door. The school called her at work to tell her what happened.  

Carrie is mad at her mother for not educating her about menstruation. The girl also wants to be comforted by her mother, but her mother's reaction is to hit her, blame her for the sin of womanhood, and then make her pray at their homemade altar before locking her in the closet where Carrie has been sent as punishment for her "sins."  

Remember this?
The onset of puberty, however late, slowly wakens forgotten powers in Carrie. As Carrie's anger grows she comes to realize or, rather, remember, that she has a special power--telekinesis--that allows her to move things with her mind. She comes to realize that she can control and develop this telekinetic power and starts practicing, literally pumping reps with her mind, progressively adding more weight to her workouts.

Carrie is hurting and full of pain from years of abuse at the hands of her classmates and her mother.  The last trick--on prom night--is a big one and it pushes Carrie over her limit.

In the mean time, one of her classmates, Sue, feels bad about the bullying in the locker room and tries to make up for it. One of the other girls, Chris, doesn't feel bad about what happened. In fact, Chris is pissed off for not being allowed to go to the prom because she skipped out on the detention that was punishment for what happened in the locker room. Her slick and bullying lawyer daddy couldn't force the administration to bend to his threats, so Chris decides to get her own revenge. Great role model, Dad.

These three girls--Carrie, Sue, and Chris--form a triangle of conflicting desires and anger that end up making a spectacularly sad & tragic horror story. There are boys involved. One of them, the town's bad boy, Billy (played by John Travolta in the movie), is a key player in making the horror break out, but its girls that star in this book. Stephen King was onto the issue of girls bullying other girls years before it became a subject of study for sociologists and psychologists and then a popular talk show topic. From a quick search, it looks like some of the earliest studies done on bullying between girls were conducted in the early 1980s.

This quote below is dialogue from Sue, the girl who is trying to do the right thing, as she's talking with her boyfriend Tommy:
"Maybe if that [the shower room scene] was all I could let it go, but the mean tricks have been going on ever since grammar school. I wasn't in on many of them, but I was on some. If I'd been in Carrie's groups, I bet I would have been in on even more. It seemed like . . . oh, a big laugh. Girls can be cat-mean about that sort of thing, and boy's don't really understand. The boys would tease Carrie for a little while and then forget, but the girls . . . it went on and on and on and I can't even remember where it started anymore. If I were Carrie, I couldn't even face showing myself to the world. I'd just find a big rock and hide under it. . . . Lots of kids say they feel sorry for Carrie White--mostly girls, and that's a laugh--but I bet none of them understand what it's like to be Carrie White, every second of every day. And they don't really care" (66-67).
Sue is breaking away from the adolescent herd and becoming a more independent thinker.  She's also developing compassion and empathy, but its too little, too late.

What happens when bullying is chronic, never ending, and intensifies?  People sometimes die. In Carrie lots of people die, and not just the tormentors, but those who didn't do anything about the bullying.  "Innocent" bystanders. Too often, of late, its those who are bullied that take their own lives.  I bet many a bullied teenager has read this book and wished they had some of Carrie's powers to make their tormentors pay.

King isn't heavy handed about the bullying, nor am I claiming it was his intended theme, but its clear that the authorities don't get the point. Instead of looking at why someone with Carrie's powers did what she did, they're intent on isolating the gene in carriers.  [Note: interspersed throughout the narrative are quotes from fictional non-fiction studies, investigations, and first-hand accounts of Carrie White life and powers and what happened on prom night.]  These authorities miss the point: Carrie's powers aren't really the problem. The bullying and abuse are the problem.

First Edition Cover
Another Stephen King novel that I recently re-read (if you consider 2009 recent) is The Shining (1977).  While I have no notes from the first time I read it twenty-plus years ago back when I was a teenager, I image I may have related to the book because the dad is distant, scary, and out-of-control. Reading it as an early middle-aged adult who had worked for years in management for a dysfunctional big-box retailer, I was struck by how it reads like a tract on how American businesses expect their employees to sacrifice their personal wellness and families for the company.

If you've never read Stephen King, especially his earlier stuff, give him a shot! Or, if you have a favorite King novel and its been twenty years since you've read it, you might have a pleasant surprise by re-reading it. Same story, different levels of meaning.  Either way, let me know what you think!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Discovering Willa Cather & Big Cather News

You know that silly question: if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, what book would it be?  My answer would be anything by Willa Cather.  If I could be picky, I'd do an eenie-meenie-minie-mo between The Song of the Lark, One of Ours, or Death Comes for the Archbishop.

I'd never heard of Willa Cather until one day while browsing the literary journals at my college library.  I wasn't one of those teenagers forced to read My Antonia in high school.  Occasionally I meet such people at the bookstore where I work. Some love My Antonia but have never read anything else by Cather, and others hate her from the forced consumption and heavy-handed teaching they endured and are skeptical when I try to convince them to give her another shot. 

My undergraduate English Department's course offerings were geared toward British Literature and I gladly took the required courses on Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc., and then dived into Old English.  For some years I fancied myself a Medievalist and it was my intention to specialize in that area in graduate school.  After discovering the joys of Hemingway one summer, I was hungry for more American Literature.  One day I decided to take the matter into my own hands and spent a day browsing all of the periodicals and journals dedicated to the subject that my library had on hand.  I went through the stacks alphabetically and eventually arrived at Western American Literature.

The one semester that an American Lit course was offered at my college I jumped on it and then couldn't believe my rotten luck when the professor sat down on the first day of class and announced that our focus would be on the French Writers who influenced American Writers. Seriously?  I contemplated dropping the class but three of my friends were also taking it, so I stuck it out.  I'm glad it did.  Although we didn't exam how these French Writers impacted even one American Writer by reading one American Novel, the professor's enthusiasm for French Writers was contagious and I admit to falling in love with Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant that semester.

So there I was happily flipping through back issues of Western American Literature when I came across an essay on Willa Cather.  I don't remember who wrote the essay or what it was about, but I do remember that a line or a footnote said something about Cather having been a lesbian.  Whoa.  A Great American Writer who I'd never heard about that could have been a lesbian to boot?  Plus she was from Nebraska, of all places, that much-maligned state I visited at least once a year since I was an infant?  I felt like I'd struck a personal gold mine.

It was also on this day that I discovered Susan J. Rosowski who was considered the premier Cather scholar at the time (Sue passed away in 2004).  I ended up going to graduate school at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln because of Sue Rosowski and Willa Cather.  My undergraduate adviser, an Anglo-Saxon Scholar, had not been thrilled about my new-found enthusiasm for Willa Cather.  He twisted his mouth in distaste as he informed me that I could read "Eskimo literature or whatever" after I secured my advanced degrees in Medieval and/or Anglo-Saxon Studies.  There was, however, a solid Medievalist in the English Department at Nebraska that my adviser deemed acceptable, so he relented and wrote a letter of recommendation for me against his better judgement.  His fears were valid: my first semester at Nebraska I ended up getting joyfully ensnared by pre-twentieth century women writers and dropped Medieval studies.

Sue at work in the Cather Archive
Sue Rosowski ended up becoming one of the most influential teachers and mentors in my life.  Her loss to those in the Cather community was tremendous but her influence as a mentor and friend lives on.  During my first year of graduate school Sue encouraged me to submit my seminar paper on Cather to a conference.  I practically swooned when I found out that not only was it accepted, but that I'd be on a panel with Sue. In the ensuing weeks, Sue helped me prep my paper for oral delivery.  There were three of us on the panel.  Sue went first, then me, then another professor.  As Sue delivered her paper, I experienced academic shock-&-awe as I saw the mess that was her paper--it was neatly typed, but it was also literally covered with hand-written notes and arrows.  I was stunned that she was able to give a coherent, interesting paper presentation off of that.  But, then, Sue could just sit and talk about any literary topic and I'd be enthralled.  I, on the other hand, was a first year graduate student with stage fright.  As I recall, I only stumbled once when delivering my paper.  It was one of those experiences where you feel like you're watching yourself from a distance with the sound turned off.  Sue and my friends assured me later that I did a fine job.

Long story short, I did earn my Masters at Nebraska and then headed further west where I took course work towards a Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno (recommended to me by Sue), but after five years of teaching comp and lit classes, I came to the slow realization that a life in academia was not for me.

One of the reasons I love Willa Cather is that her novels remind me of a time in my life that was full of literary discovery and immersion in a community of enthusiastic literary scholars.  But the reason I was first drawn to her and come back to her time after time is that I strongly relate to both her life and her writing.


Cather Memorial Prairie on March 11, 2011
In March I made the pilgrimage to Red Cloud, NE, Cather's hometown. Again.  I spent some time wandering around the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie.  It was a sunny day, in the 60s, and the wind was incessant as it almost always is on the plains.  Walking back to the parking area there was a man sitting on the bench watching his little dog explore the area.  We struck up a conversation.  He was a local man, middle-aged, his great-grand father had been one of the first white settlers to the area.  Not a farmer, a cattle man.  Just over there, he pointed back over his left shoulder.  We talked about Willa Cather, of course.  For over a decade every spring this man has opened his home to a Cather enthusiast that attends the annual Cather conference in Red Cloud.  I asked if he has a favorite Cather novel.  I don't think I was surprised when he said he hadn't read any of them.  He'd tried, he said, but he isn't much of a reader.  Yet he knows all about Cather's life and work and talks about her like a dearly loved neighbor or family member.  Its that spirit of relationship that makes Cather feel so alive to me.


Here's today's big Cather News: Part of the manuscript that Cather was working on when she died, and other items, have recently been donated to the Cather Archives by Charles Cather, her nephew.  It was long thought that the manuscript had been destroyed.

Here are two articles on the topic:

Short and sweet article #1:
Associated Press - May 12, 2011 12:05 PM ET
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A passage from Willa Cather's unfinished novel "Hard Punishments" is among a new collection of writings and mementos added to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's archives.
The editor of the archives, Andrew Jewell, says Cather died in 1947 before finishing the novel, and scholars believed the incomplete manuscript had been destroyed. He says the collection left by the author's nephew, Charles Cather, proves otherwise.
Jewell described the passage as a conversation between a boy who had his tongue ripped out for blasphemy and a blind priest who gives the boy absolution. The scene takes place in medieval France.
The passage was among several items unveiled Thursday by the university, which has the largest Cather archive in the world.
Among Cather's best-known works are "O Pioneers" and "My Antonia."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Longer article #2:
Donation of Cather documents, start of unfinished novel, made to UNL
(Media-Newswire.com) - Charles Cather, an heir to his aunt Willa Cather, has left an estate gift to the University of Nebraska that includes manuscripts including the beginning of her last novel, letters, medals and inscribed first editions of her work.
Charles Cather, Willa's nephew, died March 14 in California, and his personal property relating to Willa Cather was given to the University of Nebraska Foundation. The materials, which were loaned to the foundation from Charles Cather and became a gift upon his death, arrived last December to be catalogued by the university. While the materials have not been formally appraised, the estimated value is $2 million. They will be unveiled at an event at 10 a.m. May 12 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Van Brunt Visitors Center, 313 N. 13th St.

"This is a treasure trove of materials that sheds distinctive light on Cather's working life, and allows us to see just how relentlessly creative she was, even at the end of her life," said Guy Reynolds, professor of English and director of the Cather Project at UNL.

The collection includes hand-written scenes from Cather's last, unpublished novel, "Hard Punishments." This manuscript has not previously been made public.

"The collection holds tremendous significance to Cather scholars, with documents that provide unique glimpses into her creative process," said Andrew Jewell, editor of the Willa Cather Archive, and associate professor at University Libraries. "Here, for the first time, are early drafts of prose that eventually were transformed into one the greatest novels in American literary history: 'Death Comes for the Archbishop.'"

The hand-written scenes from her unpublished novel, "Hard Punishments," were long thought to have been destroyed. Some of the documents from the collection were never known by scholars to have existed, like notebooks full of hand-drawn maps of locations Cather featured in her fiction.

"The Charles Cather collection is an astounding and a wonderful complement to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's other rich Cather collections," Jewell said.

Items included in the Charles Cather donation:

* Pages from her last unfinished novel
* 1926 notebook and maps from a trip Cather took to New Mexico. The materials are annotated and are the inspiration for her book "Death comes for the Archbishop."
* Handwritten manuscript of "Death Comes for the Archbishop"
* The William Dean Howells Medal for "Death Comes for the Archbishop." The medal, established in 1925, is given once every five years in recognition of the most distinguished American novel published during that period. Willa Cather was the second winner of the medal in 1930.
* Several inscribed books she gave to her partner, Edith Lewis
* Photographs
* Letters of advice to her nephew, Charles Cather
* Ledgers detailing what Willa Cather was earning

The University of Nebraska has the largest Cather archive in the world. The author graduated from the university in 1895 and died in 1947. Her novels, such as "O Pioneers," "My Antonia" and "Song of the Lark," recognized frontier life on the Great Plains. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922 for "One of Ours."

In addition to Charles Cather, many other Cather family members as well as Cather scholars have made significant donations of Cather's works to UNL, including heirs of Roscoe Cather, Willa's brother; heirs of George Cather Ray, Willa's cousin; Philip and Helen Cather Southwick, Willa's niece and her husband; and Cather scholars.

Katherine Walter, chair of Digital Initiatives and Special Collections for the UNL Libraries, has seen nine of 15 Cather collections come to UNL, including all the significant collections by Cather family members.

"Charles Cather's gift adds greatly to our knowledge of Willa Cather's writing and furthers our insight into her circle of friends and family. These close relationships meant much to her as a writer," Walter said. "With this acquisition, the UNL Libraries' Archives and Special Collections is now home to 15 Cather collections of extraordinary value to scholars and students, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries' holdings of Cather's works are the most significant in the world."

Clarence Castner, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation, praised the generosity of the Cather family.

"We are grateful to Charles Cather as well as all the Cather family members and scholars who have entrusted us with their priceless Willa Cather gifts over the years," Castner said. "These are items that simply could not be afforded by a public university if they were auctioned, and they enrich the university greatly."

A special library event is planned for this fall to showcase the items provided through Charles Cather's gift. Anyone wanting to see the materials can visit the Archives and Special Collections reading room at Love Library, 13th and R streets, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

I sense another road trip to Nebraska in my future!  Archives are fun.  The new items are on display now if you're lucky enough to live near Lincoln, NE.  One article announced that there are plans at the archive for a special event this fall that will showcase the new items. I'm there.

What's your experience with Willa Cather?
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