Santa Paula Times

Memory Night at the Library

September 15, 2010
Santa Paula News

Well-known Santa Paulan Wayne Allee emceed a recitation of memories at Blanchard Library’s special program commemorating its 100th birthday.


Wayne’s mother Veva Allee, the children’s librarian in the 1940s and 1950s, was fondly remembered by many, including her granddaughter Kathy, now a librarian in Santa Maria. “She taught me how to mend books,” said Kathy, “which many libraries no longer do.” According to Andrea Robles, one of the current menders, Santa Paula’s library still does it, necessitated by budget constraints.

Carol Hardison remembered Mrs. Allee’s disapproving comment “Again?” when returning overdue books. Many of Wayne’s contemporaries, among them Terry Holts, whose mother also worked at the library, and Roland Rogers, didn’t actually use the library very much for reading and research, but they all knew Mrs. Allee.

Don Olivier wrote that he used to run up and down the library steps until the chief librarian Gladys Kennedy caught him and scolded him.

Xavier Montes recalled the library steps as a meeting place for his friends after Sunday afternoon movie matinees. Xavier didn’t spend time in the library then, although he does now.

Jack Teeters, however, worked as a library page and said he received much support and encouragement from the librarians to go on to college, which he did.

Library Director Dan Robles gave a short sketch on the history of the library, from its 1910 opening through the move to the new building. The lovely old building’s floors were falling in, and the cost of repairs was so great that the library had to be moved into the vacated Safeway building across the street.

One of the most common questions Dan still gets after 40 years is, “Why did you give up the beautiful old library?” Dan says it wasn’t the library’s decision, as the city owned the building. Dan has worked in the library for 44 years, starting as a high school page.

Maureen Spencer told a number of enthusiastic stories about her years as children’s librarian in the 1970s-80s. Ilene Gavenman, who succeeded her, thanked Maureen for all she had learned from her.

Alice Romero told of some of her adventures as driver of the Bookmobile along with Ruby Carrillo. When they visited Limoneira Ranch, they attracted a crowd of adults as well as children. The library’s budget was cut in half after Proposition 13, and the Bookmobile, sadly, had to be discontinued.

Other notable guests were retired FLAIR Director Elaine Hunt and Library trustees Ed Geis, Suzi Skutley and Beverly Mueller.

Ed Beach and Carl and Cathy Barringer were commended on their efforts to establish the Library Endowment Fund. The Fund has invested over half a million dollars, and the library receives all the interest earned every year. Cathy said she has always regarded the library as such a peaceful spot.

Dottie Armbruster wanted to read every book in the children’s library, according to a letter she sent. Several other people expressed the same wish, and although none of them accomplished that goal they all tried.

Several of the Friends of the Library members who attended but did not grow up in Santa Paula said they felt much warmth in the evening’s program, and were reminded of their library experiences in other places.

Director Robles reminded the audience that the FLAIR Literacy Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary next month, along with Hispanic Heritage month, and Gabino Aguirre will be the speaker. Everyone is invited to come.