Library Club

Ruth LantzAs I’m said before, my former high school classmates frequently have told me that I can remember many things about high school that they’ve long since forgotten. Well, here’s something that I have very little memory of: Library Club.

When I started 8th grade at the newly built Eastern Lebanon County High School (Elco), I was surprised and delighted to find all sorts of extracurricular activities available. At the Richland school where I had previously been going (and which was now a part of Elco), there had been next to none; maybe a few sports but that’s all. I don’t think I even knew the word extracurricular.

And the very first one I joined was Library Club.

It made sense.

I liked to read, and the library had lots of books so it seemed a natural fit.

That first year Mrs. Lantz was the librarian and I think Carl Wetzel was the president of the club; it was he who presided at the meetings. To be a member of the club one had to devote at least one period a week to working in the library, doing whatever needed to be done, whether working at the checkout desk, restocking the shelves, etc.Mrs Messerschmidt

Mrs. Lantz retired at the end of that year and Mrs. Messerschmidt became the interim librarian. I liked her a lot. She and I used to have long conversations, and I’ve often said that I felt she was the first person who spoke to me as if I were an adult. Of course, she was interested in lots of things that I now think are nonsense like psychic phenomena, but in those days I wasn’t yet as skeptical of them as I am today. (I’ll also note that she was married to Edgar Messerschmidt who, as Randy Klopp told me, was rather, uh, eccentric was the word I think he used. Edgar Messerschmidt often wrote into the letters section of the Lebanon Daily News and his opinions were definitely non-mainstream.) Still, I did enjoy my conversations with Mrs. Messerschmidt.

But she was just the interim librarian. The following year she assumed her regular duties as an English teacher and the newly hired full-time librarian was Larry Dieter.

He and I did not get along.

Oh, there were never any open hostilities or anything like that, it was all just below the surface. But I could tell he wasn’t too fond of me and I returned the feeling.

But I stuck with Library Club throughout the rest of my high school years. In fact, during my senior year, I was president of the club.

I know this because it says so in our Sigma ’67 yearbook.

But I have absolutely no recollection of those years under Mr. Dieter. No recollection of working in the library. No recollection of the club meetings. And definitely no recollection of conducting the meetings when I was president. And clearly I must have spent a lot of time in the library, but I have no recollection of it at all.

In fact I was really surprised a few years back when I noticed that I had been president because I had thought that I had always made it a habit not to run for any office like that.

So there are whole swaths of my time in high school of which I have no memory.

Larry Dieter, our Librarian, not anything like Giles

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