An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifteen

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Fourteen

Emma Dumpke, December 1911

My dearest Hedda,

I just finished reading “The Judgment” by Mrs. Mary King. While not fine literature, the tale is compelling because it’s true. A virtuous young woman is virtually sold to a worldly man by her selfish mother, who loves luxury above all else. The brutal, unfaithful man demands she produce an heir. 

Alas! Poor Mr. K will have no heir of his own. But he and Mrs. K generously raise the children of others as though their own. Hettie is the child of one of Mrs. K’s sisters, and Otto and Charles are the sons of Mr. K’s twin brother Karl, now deceased.

Would you decide I’m no longer worthy of friendship if I stoop to read “Luisa of Tuscany?” I fear I cannot resist the gossipy allure of the autobiography of Madame Toselli. I understand König Friedrich August of Saxony pretends the book by his first wife does not exist. 

Sometimes I am frustrated by the lack of diversity in San Antonio’s Carnegie Library. The depressing Charles Dickens is by far the most popular author. The library has thirty copies of “David Copperfield,” and they are all in constant circulation.

Continue reading “An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Fifteen”

Mining a few riches from the Library’s vault

Tucked away in a corner of the sixth floor of the Central Library is my favorite haunt there, the Texana and Genealogy Department. The stunning blond entry room named in honor of donors Joan and Herb Kelleher welcomes you into a world where often forgotten tales emerge from yellowed pages of precious books.

Research needs have left me hunched over microfiche readers for hours, distracted by fascinating newspaper headlines unrelated to my original quests. So many people from our colorful history, all with their own stories waiting to resurface. Shelves lined with rare books, rare enough to be unavailable for checkout, beg you to linger longer as the librarian announces it is already 15 minutes until closing time. Digging for clues will have to resume another day.

And yet, behind another door, is a more amazing world to explore – the vault. While materials from the vault can be requested for viewing within Texana, the general public does not simply get to wander through what lies locked within.

But this week, the San Antonio Public Library Foundation and the Texana Department shared a few samples of the amazingly varied treasures, most irreplaceable.

These riches all require special care and extremely knowledgeable librarians to assist with access, a budget-stretcher for the Library. The Library Foundation wants your help in preserving the collections in Texana for generations to come.

Hoping for another show-and-tell session in the future, and sure wish the ongoing celebration of the 150th anniversary of the San Antonio Express-News included digitalizing the first century of newspapers for the Library before some of us become microfiche hunchbacks.