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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Additional Recent Columns

Miss Hill, or Mrs. Cline  - (8/28/2016)
Ancestry and Ancestors  - (8/21/2016)
Authoring a New Book  - (8/14/2016)
Silent Movies  - (7/31/2016)

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Miss Hill, or Mrs. Cline
By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, August 28, 2016

 

 

Earlier this summer, I was asked how long I have written the “library article” for the Herald-Star?

 

Well, the answer is 33 years, the entire time that I have been employed as the Director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.

 

In that time, the format has changed, the title has been altered, and there were a couple of gaps when I had surgery and Sandy Day filled in with genealogical articles.

 

Otherwise, every Sunday a library article has appeared.

 

For 6 years before becoming the Library Director here, I directed a different small library in northwestern Ohio and there I authored a monthly column about the library with another format.

 

I enjoy writing the weekly article, and I think it is important for the public to know that the library system exists and provides great services.

 

Even if you don’t read every single article that I write, just being aware of the article and the fact that a wonderful library system exists in Jefferson County.

 

Seeing my photo in the newspaper, people often comment in restaurants, shops, and any time I am out in the public; “Aren’t you the library guy?”

 

I am clearly remembering my very “first” library submission which took place in April 1972 when I was a student worker at the Washington County Public Library in my hometown of Marietta.

 

I was rolling my book cart in the library stacks when the Director came up to me and said, “Alan, have you read a new book recently that you would like to write about?”

 

Looking puzzled, I responded that I had just finished “Dove” by Robin Lee Graham, a 16 year old boy who sailed around the world in his 24 ft. boat.

 

“Great, would you like to write a review for the newspaper?  Everyone else is off-work and we need it by tomorrow!”   Good grief, what had I been asked to do?

 

I was a senior in high school, and was just finishing a course called, “Creative Writing” and felt I was ready to take on the task of writing a book review for the library to appear in the Saturday newspaper.

 

Actually, I signed up for the class because I had run out of college prep classes and it sounded interesting.  It was being taught by Mrs. Cline, obviously a new teacher as I didn’t recognize her name.

 

The first day of class I found Miss Hill standing in the front of the room.  Oh no, she had been my 10th grade English teacher, and I didn’t do all that well in her class, and I wasn’t sure she even liked me.

 

Yes, she had gotten married, unknown to me, and here she stood in front of a class of only 12 students.

 

It was a wonderful year; we wrote and wrote, no red teacher pens were used.  It was a positive experience and everyone had fun!

 

My book review appeared in the newspaper, and my mother said it was the finest thing she said that she had ever read.  Today, a copy of “Dove” sits on the shelf in my office.

 

Early this summer, I was thinking about that Creative Writing class, and wondered if Mrs. Cline was “still around” someplace.  A brief Internet search found her to be President of the Retired Teachers Association in Marietta and I even found her address.

 

The letter that I wrote was one of the most careful documents I have ever written, as I could imagine that red pen from the Miss Hill days probably still existed.

 

The return letter began with “I looked at the return address on your envelop; and wondered if indeed this was the Alan Hall of the Creative Writing class of 1971-72?”

 

Mrs. Cline’s delightful response expressed gladness that I had written, and it was the letter that all retired teachers desire to receive knowing that their teaching 45 years earlier had a positive influence on their students.

 

So, as long as I continue writing these articles, know that Miss Hill, or Mrs. Cline is looking over my shoulder making comments; and my mother is looking down saying that this article is the “best thing she has ever read.”