I was born in 1947 and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. As a kid, I spent summers with my sister at the city beach near our home, swimming and listening to the new transistor radios. In winter we built snow forts, ice skated, hiked out to see the ice fishermen on the lake and a few times sailed across the ice in my brother’s ice boat. My mother instilled in me a love of reading and of nature, while my father, a firefighter, taught me to shingle a garage, paint walls and fences, and use small tools. I have used those skills all my life.
I became a library volunteer in fifth grade and nearly got fired because I’d hide behind the big card catalog and read books instead of shelving them. The die was cast, though, and as a student I worked in high school, college and public libraries. At the University of Wisconsin, I studied German, geology (including a summer field trip to the Yukon), and, of course, librarianship.
In college, I met my husband Jim in a class titled “Interpreting Maps and Aerial Photos.” We married after graduation. I’d never expected to get married and it is still amazing to me after 46 years. Jim was in ROTC during the Vietnam era of campus demonstrations and tear gas and expected he’d be sent directly to ’Nam, but by adding two years to his tour of duty, we were sent to Germany instead.
Though wives were discouraged from working back then, I became the secretary at the Red Cross field office on base, helping GI’s and their families. A friend there got us involved in our only foray into theater and we played nearly every bit part in “Gypsy!” — I was a newsboy, Chinese waitress and a Minsky girl (Miss December, in a silver bathing suit and tall headdress of red pipe-cleaner poinsettias). Jim was a Big Businessman, played trumpet for stripper Miss Mazeppa and pulled rank to become the front end of the dancing cow.
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We returned to Madison where Jim got an engineering degree specializing in land surveying, while I ran the university’s Geology and Geophysics Library. My seventh wedding anniversary was spent in the city dump up to my ankles in smelly goo, holding the rod as Jim ran a survey. Phew!
Jim earned his PhD and was hired to teach surveying (now Geomatics) at Fresno State, so we moved to Clovis in 1984. We had one of the very first GPS units in our car — it weighed 70 pounds! Our first son, Ian, was born in Madison, but our second son, Scott, is a Clovis native. Both boys graduated from Clovis High.
In Fresno, I worked as a medical librarian and researcher at Community Hospital, the VA Medical Center and St. Agnes, and also got to select and buy books for small branches and bookmobiles in the public library system. Picking out which books to buy was fun, whether for readers in Mendota and Big Creek or for nurses and surgeons. Over the years I lived through the transition from slide rules to computers and from fat paper reference books to the Internet and Google. Every day brought new questions and new challenges.
Since retiring, I’m trying many new things. My husband and I went with the Clovis Community Band to the 70th D-Day celebration in Normandy and actually walked on that historic beach.
We travel to Wisconsin every summer to visit friends and relatives, and enjoy taking trips, hiking, canoeing and playing board games. My volunteering includes the Clovis Botanical Garden (NE corner of Clovis and Alluvial — visit it!), Fresno State student food pantry, and a knitting group that provides blankets to charities. At the Clovis Senior Activity Center, I love volunteering at the front information desk because it’s like the things I enjoyed most in libraries — meeting new people and answering new questions every day. I recommend the Senior Center to everyone because of all the activities and bus trips, the friendly people and the interesting stories that every single person there has to tell.