A Ginney Block Kid Become a Library Page


May 20, 1927, is a red letter day for me for two reasons. That was the day that Charles A. Lindbergh began his non-stop flight from New York to Paris, France! That was the day that the Lone Eagle, as he became known later on, took off in his little monoplane, the "Spirit of St. Louis, " and flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean. That was the day that I started my career in library work!

On that day, Lindbergh became a folk hero. On that day, I, a kid from the Ginney Block, became a page in the Brownell Junior High School Library, a branch of the Cleveland Public Library, at the age of fourteen, scheduled to work a few hours a day after school at sixteen cents an hour!

Imagine my excitement! Lindbergh, whom I had been hearing about for days, was actually flying over the great Atlantic Ocean at the very same time that Miss Dorothy Tobin, the school librarian, was teaching me the Dewey Decimal System, how to file cards, shelve books, etc. She would stop every so often to ask, " Where do you think Lindy is by now?" Although she was just as excited as I was about the flight, she continued to impress upon me how important it was for me to learn the classification system well. She emphasized the fact that if I did not do my job well, she could not do her job well.




Picture of the old Brownell Jr. High School building circa 1920, from the school publication entitled "The Meteor."




Miss Tobin was a friendly and kindly lady. I would guess that she could have been in her early thirties at the time. She was a couple of inches taller that I was, rather slender, with light brown hair, neatly coiffed into a stylish bob. She wore a white blouse, with skirt and jacket regularly. She had light blue eyes that sparkled and twinkled. She was fair of face, with a well formed, attractive nose, and a very pretty mouth. As an observing teenager, I used to conjecture that she could be much more attractive if she would vary her wardrobe and wear a pretty dress once in a while!

She might have looked old-fashioned because of her penchant for tailored blouses, skirts and jackets, but she was far from it! Besides books and people, she loved the outdoors, and loved to go on bird watches and to hike on weekends. She not only introduced me to library work, but also led me to the pleasures of hiking. She was never able to get me to go bird watching with her! That is where I drew the line.

My stay as a page at the Brownell Junior High School Library was to last only until the end of January 1928, upon graduation from the ninth grade at Brownell. Although my career there as a city school district library page only lasted eight months, Miss Tobin had done her job well! She had taken what she used to call her "little diamond in the rough," and had turned him into a first-class page. Hers was the inspiration that led me into library work. I shall not forget her.