TIM BAZZET: Vote 'yes' on the Reed City Library millage proposal

I grew up with books. My mother loved books and all that could be learned from them, and she passed this love of reading and the printed word along to all of her children. Our family came to Reed City in 1945 when I was just a year old. Reed City was a wonderful place to grow up. I have many happy memories of my childhood here and many of them revolve around books. I remember sitting with mom and my three older brothers as she read us bedtime stories. From books. Many of those books came from the Reed City Library.

The first library I remember visiting with mom was in the basement of the Community Building at the southeast corner of Chestnut and Slosson streets. That building is long gone, the space now occupied by a small Yoplait parking lot. Fortunately the library didn’t close. It only moved.

The large light-filled library that I remember best as a boy was located above city hall at the corner of Upton and Higbee streets. By the time it opened I was old enough to go by myself, and I was a regular visitor, going at least once a week, and sometimes more often, as I read my way through the children’s shelves — all those dog, horse and other animal books; the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, and on to the classics: Dickens, Defoe, London, Twain, Dumas, etc. And then, when I’d exhausted those books, I moved on to what was left. The Reed City Library was for me a magical place that expanded my small-town world.

One of the books I remember from those years was Carl Sandburg’s memoir of his Illinois childhood, Prairie-Town Boy. It was a fascinating book and made an impression. I was probably 10 or 11 when I read it. Fifteen years or so later I read another book that also stayed with me. It was a novel called Wolf, with its opening line: “You could travel west out of Reed City, a small county seat in an unfertile valley with a small yellow brick courthouse …”

Imagine that - Reed City, in a BOOK! It was written by Jim Harrison, who, like me, grew up right here in Reed City (and is now an internationally famous author). Harrison’s book was not about Reed City, but it got me thinking, and I thought again of Sandburg’s book. And so, years later, in 2004, after a lifetime of reading books, I wrote one. I called it Reed City Boy. Of the hundreds of letters and emails I have received about the book in the past 10 years, one that stands out in my mind came from a college student in Maryland who had grown up here. It read: “Wow! A book about Reed City? Hell musta finally frozen over!”

Well, I don’t know about that. But the Reed City Library — the place where my love affair with books and reading began so many years ago — is still here. It’s in another location now, but I believe it’s still a magical place for kids. Libraries are a lot more than books now, of course. They’ve entered the digital age of computers and other electronic media. But for me they will always be about books. Libraries are hard-pressed to make ends meet these days. I simply cannot imagine Reed City without a library.

Please vote YES on the Reed City Library millage proposal on Nov. 4. Your children will reap the rewards (and yes, my book is in the library).

Tim Bazzett

Reed City