By Loretta Humble
I got a thank you card from JoAnn Surls this week. It was beautifully written in her fine flowing longhand, in a lovely card with a picture that looks sort of like it could have been. This is not the first thank you card I’ve received from her. JoAnn knows and observes all the fine social graces, some of which I just fail to observe, and some of which I never learned. But I really think she went a little far this time, basically thanking me for coming out and drinking wine and letting her dig up dozens of plants for me to take home. I’m proud to say I did bring them home and got every one of them planted before they dried out. Actually, Jo Ann said the card was about something else, but I like to tell it my way. It makes a better story.
Here I was out there on a private tour of the soon-to-be-famous Joe Surls Memorial Gardens, watching its creator dig me plants, then serve me wine in front of the fire place while she told me great stories and threw in a little counseling. Did I send Jo Ann a thank you card? Heck no. Unless you can count this as my card: Jo Ann, thank you so much for the plants, the wine, the company, and your beautiful place and your generosity in sharing it with me. And for your greater generosity as you plan to share it with so many more of us. But that is another story.
I got to spend some time with another exceptional woman this week, too. Matsy Walker is an old friend of mine, a retired social worker, who lives in a wonderfully converted old store building that adjoins the Cedar Lake Nursing Services parking lot. The location works out well in more than one way. She is more or less in charge of Becky’s Closet, which offers good free clothing to many folks around here. It is located in the First Baptist Church building. She just walks past the library/city hall which is right next door, crosses a street, and she is there. The other way it works out well is that I can walk across my parking lot, and almost always get a cup of coffee and a lot of support just for asking. Not only that—Matsy is also a gardener, though she does have slightly less space than JoAnn. She gives me plants, too. But she hasn’t sent me a thank you card yet. I don’t know what she is waiting on.
Speaking of great ladies, Randy Rader finally got most of the books out of her store this week. In case some of you missed it, Randy had to give up her bookstore because of a serious respiratory problem, which the books exacerbated. And since she lives in back of her building, she couldn’t turn the shop over to somebody else. The books would have still been in breathing distance. A lot of people got some really great books at bargain prices, and the library got thousands of books for their sale, and probably some will go into the library. I helped Randy get into the book business, so I felt responsible to do a little to help her get out. One afternoon Matsy and I helped pack boxes, and Randy gave Matsy a ton of books to take home and enjoy. My main job was to find boxes. I’ll bet I brought her a hundred or more, and I wasn’t the only one procuring boxes. And I don’t think that hundred included the more than twenty boxes of excellent books that came to Books on Wheels.
Sadly, Malakoff doesn’t have a bookstore anymore, but it does have a good library. And on her way out of the book business, Randy helped it get a little better.