PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
“I’m back” was my opening line this past Monday.
I retired on Dec. 31, took my required 60 calendar days off work (which was actually 73 days), and returned as Director of the library system on March 15.
I am making my 35 years of service with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System work for the benefit of our library system, by breaking service and returning at a reduced salary in order to save the library system precious budget funds.
I hope it wasn’t a coincidence that the worst winter weather in years took place during my 2 ½ months of retirement, but it was nice to look out the window and not worry about snowfall and roads and library openings and closings.
During the first three weeks of retirement, I found myself sleeping just a little later each morning.
I read two books from start to finish, I sorted out papers that have needed sorted for years, and I assisted at church.
The really big event planned for retirement was the train trip around the West.
I had planned it when my temporary retirement had been approved. January and February is a great time for an Amtrak trip; off-season, lower rates, less crowding.
Better yet, my wife had agreed to go along, and seemed mildly excited about the trip.
I was worried about the winter weather, which was delaying trains early in January; but by January 25 all was well and the severe weather had subsided.
There were a few flurries in the air in Pittsburgh as we departed just before midnight, but it developed into a near blizzard by Alliance.
The overnight trip to Chicago was great. We changed trains and headed for Los Angeles via Texas.
Four nights in Los Angeles with our friends, a concert at Disney Hall with the LA Philharmonic, and lots of touring of the city, and it was time to head north to Seattle.
While there, we were told of a snowstorm back East, while it was 75 degrees in L.A.
Three nights in Seattle, tours of the City, and lots of exploring around the area in the 60 degree weather.
The warm weather ended as we started back, crossing Montana and North Dakota in below zero temperatures.
The snowfall was beautiful from the warmth of our Sleeper Room on the train as the blowing snowflakes pounded on the windows.
We planned two days in Chicago and a trip to the Shedd Aquarium during another snowstorm.
The newscaster on TV said that it was a small snowfall of less than 9 inches, so schools would remain open, which they did.
Trains traveling east of Chicago were cancelled due to trees on the tracks, so the return trip was via rental car.
Despite the final segment, our 7,000 mile train trip was a wonderful way of occupying the retirement period, and enabled me to “clear my mind” after 35 years of library work.
My mind feels like a computer that was turned off and emptied out, then turned back on with its cache all cleaned out and ready for new processing.
I would like to thank Sandy Day for writing her column during my absence, and Mike Gray for serving as Acting Director during my time off.
It is now time to look at the library system with a clear mind and fresh ideas.