Valley City and Hometown Surprises

Last week I drove to Valley City, the town I grew up in, to look for an old newspaper article from when I was a kid. I’d recently reconnected with a friend on Facebook and we’d reminded each other of when our picture had been in the Valley City Times Record. I was intrigued. I had to find it.

First stop: the Valley City Times Record. They didn’t have archives in their building. Archives were at the university. While we were talking, I mentioned that I was an author. All ears perked up. “Of course,” I thought. “These are writers, too!” We talked about my book and they wanted to do a story on it since I was a Valley City girl. Cool!!

Second stop: Valley City State University.  The librarian looked SO familiar! Incredibly, tracing our steps back, we’d been in college one year together. That’s life in a small town! The reference librarian gave me access to the microfiche archives. I said, “The picture was taken on Valentines Day between 1960 and 1967.” He said, “Okay. Here you go.” And he pulled ten rolls of microfiche out of the drawer. 

IMG_20150716_152503052 (800x649)Microfiche, Jill Kandel, So Many AfricasHe set me up on the microfiche machine and I began browsing the rolls of film. Hoping, praying, to find the one picture. I went through five films, the time was running out. And Bingo! There is was. February 14, 1966.

The caption reads, “King & Queen of Hearts. Mrs. Gladys Sjostrom’s fifth graders at Jefferson School had a Valentine Party this morning. Selected King and Queen of Hearts were David Oie and Jill Jensen, center. Prince and Princess were James MacArthur and Lori Noles.”

IMG_20150716_153454581 (673x800)

In that one caption I was reminded of my teacher’s name, my school’s name, and the names of three young friends. Over the years, I lost track of James and Lori. And David? King of the Day? He’s the one I met on FB. David left Valley City after sixth grade and I always wondered where he went. Now I know. And for some odd reason, it is comforting to me. I can’t explain it. It fills a gap that was only a question. And I like that.

THIRD STOP: Valley City Barnes County Public Library Okay. I know I’m being completly nostolgic. But this is the library that changed my life. That made me a reader. That I rejoiced in every week as I walked past those two stone lions and up the cement steps and into the adult section. Turn right. Go down the steps. There, through that magic door, is the children’s library room. Walk past the case of stuffed birds. (It’s still there!) Walk past the coat hangers that I don’t ever remember using. Walk inside and breathe the air of adventure and intrigue. Breathe in the books.

Valley City Barnes County Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many AfricasValley City Barnes County Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, Children's LibraryValley City Barnes County Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, Valley City Barnes County Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, booksThe new library director, Steve Hammel, graciously gave me a complete tour of the old Carnegie Library and I marveled at the updates which were so architecturally sound and blended with the original building. It brought back memories of a little girl who said she was going to read every book in the children’s room. She started one summer with A. She read all of the books (in alphabetical order by author name) through the Bs. She read the Cs. And then school started. And then she decided she’d rather just read, in any order, in any category. And so she read. And read. And read.

At the end of the tour, I found myself pledging $20,000 to restore the old ceiling of the dome … IF ever I had the money. Oh, I wish.

At the end of the tour, the librarian and I spoke about my writing. And he said he’d like to buy some of my books for the library. “Sure,” I said. “I have a few in the car.” He wanted ten. I had eight. He bought them all.

So, yes, Valley City. The old hometown come back to me. My book in circulation at the library I used to dream in. Sweet Dreams they were. And have become.

Valley City Barnes County Public Library, Jill Kandel, So Many Africas, Times RecordThe Times Record story came out this past week. I made the front page. It’s not online. The paper has gone from black and white to color. It looks great. Thank you to Heidi Harris for a great job of writing.

Kudus to all things Valley City. To hometowns. To people who remember and reconnect. And yes, even to FB who helped connect me with my past. And of course, thank you to David, first King of Hearts in my life, who found me out after all these years.

One More Blog Post on My Library

Jill Kandel
  • Cam Leedahl
    Posted at 10:11h, 14 August Reply

    Great post, Jill. — Cam

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 10:30h, 14 August Reply

      Thank you, Cam! I really did enjoy the visit back home. It surprised me as I don’t think of myself as particularly nostalgic. It was quite a lovely day.

  • Harold Ball
    Posted at 12:35h, 14 August Reply

    What a wonderful journey!!!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:23h, 15 August Reply

      Thanks, Harold. It was a great trip. And actually, I hope to take it more often now that I’ve tried it out.

  • David Eric Oie
    Posted at 01:02h, 15 August Reply

    Thank you for your warm comments. Going back home always brings about much anticipation. Sometimes I can leave empty or disappointed. But when I come across people I want to see, or drive down a street on a warm summer evening and everything looks a glow, I know I’ve come home and everything is magical again!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 08:23h, 15 August Reply

      Hi David, Thank you! I’m agree. Hometowns can bring on the empties or the glows. They are funny things, with so many mixed, forgotten, and longed-for-times. Magical: your mind living in the 1960s and 2015 at the exact same time.

  • Kris Hansen Swanson
    Posted at 14:26h, 15 August Reply

    Great article Jill. Congratulations on your book.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 07:34h, 16 August Reply

      Thank you, Kris! Nice to hear from you. Hope you are well!

  • Katherine Lenaburg
    Posted at 21:13h, 15 October Reply

    Wow! Very cool story! I am going to read your book Jill! Eric is my FB friend too and we both love North Dakota! My partner is from The Netherlands too! Life is good!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 22:31h, 20 October Reply

      Thank you, Katherine! I love the Netherlands!Glad you enjoyed the story. Hope you like the book as well!

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