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Library Happenings – Find brings back past memories (Aug. 19, 2015 issue)

Almost every week our library is blessed with donations of used books, and frequently they arrive in boxes. Most of the time, the boxes contain nothing but books. Every now and then, however, various other items make their way to the library alongside the intended donations.
Greeting cards are a common accompaniment. Since I doubt I’m the only one who uses them as bookmarks, I suspect that is the reason. I also have been known to mark my place with dollar bills, but we have not found any of those.
Not surprisingly, small toys and crayons have come in boxes stuffed with children’s books, and a potholder once arrived with a box of cookbooks. We even have found some broken costume jewelry, but sadly, no gold or diamonds. The most valuable things we’ve discovered have been conversation starters. One of those little treasures was brought to my attention last week.
I doubted that many under the age of forty would recognize this item without extracting it from its case and unfolding it. I tested this hypothesis with our younger staff, and that was indeed the case. Connie and I, on the other hand, knew it immediately. It is one of the fan-folded plastic rain bonnets women kept in their handbags during the 1950s and 1960s. This one, still tucked in its little open-ended white plastic case, carries a clue to its history. It apparently was given to customers of the Cole’s American Stations in Marlow Heights and Silver Hill, Maryland.
After reminiscing about the rain bonnets and the hairstyles that created a demand for them, we moved on to the shower caps and swim caps that also were commonplace during that time. As I recall them, neither kept my hair completely dry, so I only liked the ones that had decorative value in addition to the imperfect function. My favorite swim cap, from those summer vacations at Daytona Beach, was covered in multi-colored flowers. Caps like it – now called vintage style bathing caps – are still available but I have not worn one in decades.
It’s funny how a common but nearly forgotten item from the past can trigger an avalanche of memories. The only things better are photographs and well-written books.
Coming Attractions
Among the most-anticipated new books we have on order are “Circling the Sun” by Paula McLain, “Armada” by Ernest Cline, “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs, “The Bourbon Kings” by J. R. Ward, and “Who Do You Love?” by Jennifer Weiner. I also am intrigued by the title “Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits” by Mary Jane Hathaway. Please give us a call at 743-6533, if you would like to reserve any of these titles.