4,000 books

By Stell Shevis | Nov 19, 2015

It was probably Bill Clayter, the mailman, who told us this story.

The new Rockport library was planning to dump a big lot of old books to make room for the new ones. These old books were too shabby to sit on the sparkling new shelves. Shevis was shocked! Books were never too old, unless the pages were torn or the print illegible.

He immediately phoned the teacher of the one-room school and asked if she would like to have these books for the school. Of course she was delighted, but where would she put them? Not to worry, he'd find a way.

Visiting our friend Cyril Hopper, he persuaded Cyril to chip in to buy some boards for shelving. Cyril was a bachelor, about 40 years old, veteran of World War II, who lived alone in the house near the school. He was always entertained by our crazy ideas, and agreed to help Shevis show the eighth-grade boys how to put up shelves in the entrance hall of the school. This was a roomy space of about 6-by-12 feet, large enough to house all 4,000 books. Everyone was delighted!

Except the parents. We started getting phone calls.

"You gotta get them books out of there! Our kids are readin' all the time, they ain't doing the chores!"

This was an area of small farmers whose living depended on raising pigs, hens or produce. Every member of the family was required to help. We had to move those books.

So, once more, Shevis and Hopper moved all the shelves and the 4,000 books. this time to an old empty barn near the small grocery store on Route 3 at the end of our road — the Tilden Pond Road. The barn was in pretty good condition with a tight roof. It belonged to the town, very suitable for becoming a library. No librarian needed. Since the door was never locked, and people could walk in and help themselves.


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