Blast to the Past

Valley City Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas 4Stepping back, forty years into your own history, is slightly mind-bending. Last night I did a book reading/talk at the Valley City Barnes County Library. I’m not usually too worried about book talks; last night I was. What if … what if people remember me and I don’t remember them? What if I suddenly go blank and my 5th grade English teacher shows up and there is NO Name that comes to mind? What if nobody comes? What if too many people come and the library room overflows? (I know. A writer’s brain can go to all extremes.)

I need not have worried.

There was a lovely welcoming sign, with balloons, setting up outside the library. “Meet and Greet Local Author.” I was walking in to the library I used to check books out of … walking in with MY books on their shelves. So Weird.

People starting showing up and were SO kind. I heard lots of connection stories:

  • Valley City Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas 5“Your dad delivered my two babies!”
  • “I worked at the clinic with your dad!”
  • “How is your mom doing?

Those sorts of comments.

  • I heard, “I was your teacher.”
  • “You went to school with my daughter.”
  • “My sister rode horses with you. Remember?”

Everyone introduced themselves. “Hi! I’m Karen. We were in school together.” Everyone EXCEPT one person who stood and stared me in the eye and wouldn’t look away. She just smiled. And looked. And my slow dull old brain clicked at the right moment. “DEENIE!” She broke into a smile and we hugged and did the old-classmate dance.

Valley City Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas 1Winner of the most bizzare connection of all?

I met the nurse who was in the delivery room helping me
the day I gave birth to our third son, Ben. Now that’s odd. She remembered more of the day than I did. Personally, it’s not one of those memories I’m keen on going back to in all its lovely details.

54 people showed up. I sold more books at one time than I have at any other event with the exception of my initial book launch party in Fargo. It was a really fun evening. I’m really sorry I didn’t get a picture of Roberta Lemnus, Adult Serives Coordinator, and Library Director Steve Hammel. Both were a joy to work with. The room was set up, coffee and treats were available, and everything ran smoothly. Thank you to you both!
Valley City Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas 3Many thanks to old friends, home towns, and library staff who work long hours and do such amazing work. Thank you to the Valley City people who had a vision and not only kept that old Carnegie Library but raised the funds to restore and expand the building.

It was a grand evening in many ways. I guess the past isn’t such a bad place to visit after all. I used to pat that old library lion on the head every time I walked up those steps as a kid. He was still there. And I think he might have remembered me. I could have sworn I saw him wink. 

Jill Kandel
jill.kandel@gmail.com
4 Comments
  • Gianna Anderson
    Posted at 11:58h, 20 October Reply

    I think it is exciting that you went back to Valley City. My mom remembers your dad as well. I remember visiting my Grandpa there and spending time in his garden. He lived right beside the hospital and when my sister was going to college she lived there with Grandpa and interned at the hospital.. Thanks for remembering the small towns. You are doing an amazing job of writing. Thank You for the hard work you are doing, so that we have a great book and soon books to read:) Elisa

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 22:29h, 20 October Reply

      Interesting to hear about your grandfather, Elisa. All those connections!

  • Dinah Heinze
    Posted at 20:29h, 17 December Reply

    Please contact Dinah Heinze, manager at Eagle’s Nest Bookstore in Valley City (701) 845-1519. We are interested in selling your books, if possible. Thanks! Dinah

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 11:56h, 23 December Reply

      Thank you for the nice conversation, Dinah. I put the ten books in the mail for the Eagle’s Nest Bookstore yesterday. Hope they arrive soon! Jill

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