Pop, at 95, Makes the Scene: Our biggest night of the social season.

Last night Pop and I made the scene at two premiere Alton social events of the Spring Season. We field-tested the new rig inherited from my sister-in-law Patty’s mother, who passed away last winter. It’s a sort of combo walker/seat, and has a little pouch to easily take along his portable oxygen. We found it a bit tricky on our maiden voyage, but I’m sure it will get easier over time. This was a highly ambitious outing for us, but worked out quite nicely. Rarely are double-booked for an evening out!

A.) The opening of the the Library of Genealogy and Local History in the Hayner Public Library District, managed by Cathie Lamere. We were invited guests to this opening party. We stayed about 2 hours.The public ribbon cutting is this Saturday.

We know Cathie as a charming guest in our home (she and her husband came to Pop’s 95th birthday party) and one of the most sensitive listeners and interviewers I’ve ever encountered. Over the years Pop has donated many papers, pictures, our published books, and photo-documentation books. He recently donated a collection of his whittled critters along with their pedigrees. In one of the museum quality cases these little masterpieces of folk art were displayed with their pedigrees. Show stopping and widely declared as charming and impressive.

Previously the Genealogy and Local History department was called “The Illinois Room” and was, indeed, housed in a shockingly small room. The expanded into allows ample space to stretch out and feature the entire collection. The “Illinois Room” is now quite spacious and at the back of the grand entry room. This arrangement makes it easy for scholars and interested library patrons to find the items Pop and others have donated over the years. It also makes it possible for Pop to donate whatever he wants to there. They can now accept it and make them accessible.

The building they moved into is the original building that people of my generation knew as the only library in town. As Cathie and I said last night “We went there not because of programs or reading contests. We went there, because that’s where the books were.” The building–always filled with grandeur and grace–has been meticulously restored. With its stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling, it’s like a church for books.

Most important to us were old friends we visited with. Genie Keller–one of my Women of Inspiration at 90–told us that her husband Eddie died recently. Though everyone agrees it was a blessing, still Genie is the only one to deal with the business of death. She is valiant, strong, and will make it through as Pop did after mother’s death 5 years ago.

B) The Spring Concert for The Alton Youth Symphony (AYS), the Chamber Group, and the Alton Junior Youth Symphony

The concert was held at the Harmony Baptist Church next to the new Alton High School. The music was embraced by the churches vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. Just on a bigger scale than the Hayner Library building. Unfortunately, the acoustics were rather marginal. Pop donates generously to the Alton Youth Symphony as a Sustaining Member. I donated six of my newfangled tuners.

We used our wits to experiment with locations where Pop would be comfortable, and finally found one. We stayed an hour. One of the highlights for both of us was the montage of Cole Porter classics. I could even name them as they passed by and whisper the titles in my father’s ear as we nodded in recognition.

The real highlight, though, was seeing Pop’s great grand daughter in the assembly of the Alton Youth Symphony Orchestra. This is quite an honor and vote of confidence since she is only in 5th grade in a field of young musicians ranging up to 8th grade. She is petite anyway, but looking down the pews where they sat waiting for her turn, she was a head shorter than the other two girls sitting on either side. She looked so young and vulnerable. Later, though, when she was on stage with her group, I managed to position myself so that I could see her play. From her bowing alone I can attest that she plays with great authority.

We stayed an hour and decided to call it a night, going to bed straight-away after we got home a bit before 9 p.m. Qjuite a night for us usual stay-at-homes.

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