I had a warped reading agenda when I was young and for lack of anywhere to stick me in 8th grade I took library science. My 7th grade year Glendale had lost a bond issue and we only had one elective and through the powers that be’s twisted logic if you were on the college prep tract you had to take a year of home ec. If you weren’t you got a typing and home ec and one less hard course. I hated home ec and wanted to take shop but Glendale wasn’t that enlightened. The next year funding was back and I had to choose another elective besides the dreaded home ec. Did I mention I hate home ec?
Anyway since I couldn’t take Latin until 9th grade the counselor decided it was Library Science for me, along with my first year of Science.
Taking Library Science warped me for life. An hour a day to pick reading material I had never been exposed to before and I was required to read as much as possible when we weren’t learning how to mend books with orange library paste or make enticing wall decorations for the windows and bulletin boards.
It was the place I discovered Heinlein and other Sci-Fi, and every fairy and folk tale collection that was available in the mid ‘60s but what really warped me was discovering the humour section. I read my way through Richard Armour, Ogden Nash, Bennett Cerf, James Thurber, Richard Burgess, Hilaire Beloc and Robert Benchley. Mrs Castlen was dangerous and delighted in feeding my brain with strange ideas.
Lately I’ve had the urge to read Richard Armour again and it isn’t in print except as used books and that’s a real shame because it’s some of the funniest stuff you will ever read especially if you also love history, art and word play. It was a heady brew and I’m afraid was a formative influence on most of what I write. Those writers expected you to understand their references and be able to see the humor which is probably why it isn’t in print but should you ever run across “It all started with Columbus” or “Twisted Tales from Shakespeare” or “It All Started with Marx” go for it.