Occasionally there will be some light-hearted posts here, but they will still be library related in order to keep things all tied together.
This is the first of those posts.
I have a small book called “300 Writing Prompts” that I purchased for $3 at a Five Below store, so for .30 cents a prompt that’s some pretty cheap entertainment. Of course, I won’t use all 300 of the prompts here or anything like that, but I will occasionally flip my book open, blindly jab my finger down on a page and see what prompt is staring back at me.
This inaugural writing prompt reads as so:
“If you had lived a hundred years ago, what kind of work do you think you would have done? What job would you have wanted to have?”
I definitely would not have been a librarian, that is for sure!
Mainly because libraries from 100 years ago were different in just about every capacity compared to libraries in 2019. They had books, and as many resources as possible for their time, but they paled in comparison to the vast-ness of what a library can offer you today. Not to mention they were quite “stuffy” back then. The stereotype of the older, sour-puss, bespectacled, hair-in-a-bun, ready-to-hit-you-with-the-world’s-loudest-SHHH-just-because-your-chair-creaked librarian exists for a reason: because that is just about all there ever used to be, especially 100 years ago!
Without sounding like I am attempting to toot my own horn, as that is absolutely not the case here, I know that I am of a rare breed: the male librarian. Plenty exist, but libraries are still predominantly staffed/manned/ran by females…and there’s nothing wrong with that! Men and women can both be whatever they want and thankfully, sometime ago, the stigma about men being librarians started to subside and more and more of us found ourselves in this field. Benjamin Franklin was a librarian! Melville Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, was a librarian! Mao Zedong, the former leader of China, was at one point a librarian! Am I likening myself to any of those men of legend? Absolutely not! I’m just saying that, back in 1919, there were a lot fewer men employed at libraries than there are now. And it would have been much more difficult for men to get hired as librarians as there were a lot fewer libraries. Not to mention most libraries were much smaller than they are now, which means less need for staff. I’m sure some library somewhere would have hired me, but the chances of that happening just shout “minimal” to me so I’m going to go ahead and say that it wouldn’t happen.
So what would I think I would have done? Or what would I have wanted to do?
Well, first off, I must say that I am envisioning this answer as if I was thrown in a time machine and dumped unceremoniously 100 years ago, in the body and brain that I have now. And, playing off of that, I definitely would not have been any sort of day laborer or factory worker. The erector set of steel, screws and wires that is attached to my spinal cord – and has been since age 15 – prevents me from ever doing that. That is a very long story for a different day but, if you have ever been in to PPL and seen me and always wondered to yourself “He always sits and stands perfectly straight…” that is why. I cannot bend my spinal cord. Not even a little bit.
So with day labor/factory work out, and libraries most likely out of the question, I would like to think that I would have done what I originally wanted to be in life, well before I ever became a libarian: a police officer.
From a very young age I was fascinated by cops and quickly grew to realize that I wanted to become one when I grew up. In my teenage years I attended police summer camps four straight years, from the ages of 13 to 16 (13, 14, 15 and 16 for anyone thinking “but that is only 3 years…”).
Back then, Tom Chamberlain was a Plymouth Police officer and not the Marshall County Sherriff he later became, and he happened to attend the same church as I did. Officer Chamberlain knew I wanted to become a cop and he suggested I attend one of these camps that were held for one week each summer in a couple locations around the state. The closest to Plymouth was at the University of Valparaiso, and I went with a handful of other kids that were contemplating becoming police officers once they were grown up.
The next summer I went to camp again at Valpo, along with some different kids. The third summer was when I had my back surgery and, for whatever reason, the camp was located at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. I initially made the trip, but fallout complications with my recovery prevented me from attending any classes or demonstrations and after two short days of being in complete and total agony, my parents came down and took me home. The following year, in which I was fully recovered, the camp was again held at Valpo and I attended it for a final time.
Each of the four years I attended them, the camps were centered on various trainings and seminars, preparing teens for the world of police work as best they could given their age range. Some examples were crash scene investigations, forensics, murder investigations and general crime scene investigations. There were also lectures from various levels of officers from around the state, where they shared cases they worked on personally and some of the horrors they’d witnessed while behind the badge. Some also shared the good that being a police officer brought them, like stopping criminals and preventing crime and protecting/helping people. I ate every bit of camp up and planned to use all that I learned (I was one of only a few kids around the state that attended camp 4 years straight)…and then it never happened thanks to my spine.
When I was much younger than I am now, I applied at a local police station that happened to be looking for new recruits. When I mentioned my back and revealed the extent of my on-going spinal problems it was very quickly ruled/decided that, even if I was to become a cop (after attending police academy, of course) I would most likely end up behind a desk somewhere.
My goal was always to be a patrolman of some sort, and the thought of sitting behind a desk for decades, solving crimes and helping on cases all from inside an office, just did not appeal to me. Could I have powered through and done what I said I wanted to? Yes and no. I could have still gone to a police academy and graduated and seen where the world took me…but the thought of not becoming exactly what I envisioned being consumed me and I gave up entirely and focused on other things…which eventually led me to the world of libraries.
I happen to love what I do and I think I am quite good at it (most days) so I’d say it worked out for the best. But 100 years ago…that would be an entirely different story.
Could I be a police officer in 2019? No.
Could I have been one in 1919? I like to think so.
The entire world was different back then, especially the world of crime. Circumstances would have been completely different from things now and I could easily envision myself patrolling around a town somewhere, keeping an eye on things and investigating whatever pops up. I probably would have even been good at it.
But here in 2019 I am a librarian, and I am perfectly alright with that!
Now it’s your turn: if you were magically transported to 1919, what do you think you would do for a living?