All around the Carnegie

Friends of the Lincoln Library column
By: By Jane Tahti Special to The News Messenger
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This is the seventh of a multipart series on the Carnegie Library. Note: Lincoln’s Carnegie Library is currently closed, due to budget cuts in the city of Lincoln’s General Fund.

The Carnegie Library was surrounded by community buildings.

The library sat next to the ever mysterious Moore’s Theater. In back of the Carnegie was the square little Scout Hall. Across the street was the Veteran’s Hall and the Civic Auditorium.

Catty-corner was the Women’s Club.

All of us lived in cozy little houses and yards in the midst of the community activities that took place in these civic buildings.

The Civic Auditorium was the site of the Fireman’s Ball, an all-night affair on New Year’s Eve. After getting tired of watching our parents waltz, rumba, samba and two-step, we kids would run amuck, up and down the stairs, in and out of the balcony and all of the many doors.

The auditorium’s stage was also the setting for high school dramas that played to a packed house: the squirming audience consisted of the entire grammar school students, who had walked the two blocks from school.

On Halloween night, school children paraded across the stage in their costumes. One little boy was dressed like half a man, with the waist of the oversized pants attached to a wire encircling his head. To breathe better, he wowed the audience by unzipping the fly of his pants and sticking his nose in and out of the opening. The auditorium rocked with the laughter of parents standing shoulder to shoulder.

Over at the ever charming Women’s Club, we suffered the agonies of each other’s piano recitals and gallumped through the fantasies of our dance performances. At one such performance, my mother, Freda Fleming, and her friend, Perk Williams, missed most of their daughters’ ballet number. They were laughing so hard that they had to go out into the hallway.

The Scout Hall was the scene of wonderful events that involved an endless variety of badges, beads and awards. My proudest moment came when my father, Al Fleming, was on the City Council. He presented me with some kind of badge with an Indian-sounding name, while we Bluebirds sang “Woe oh hee low.”

But Moore’s Theater! No Imax 3D Ultra Surround Sound Theater could compare with the magic of that little theater. Inside, the lobby was graced at one end by a drinking fountain of varnished rocks. That cool little enclave could well have served as a religious grotto, except for the green frog that spouted drinking water out of its mouth. 

Once inside the theater, we, the Carnegie neighborhood kids, owned the rows in front of the small stage.

One vampire movie held our front rows spellbound as our eyes dropped from the screen to stare at the discarded trunk that sat on the floor in front of the screen. What delicious terror! It was just about to creak open, wasn’t it?

It was the Carnegie, though, that was always there for us. There was no wait for the ball or the recital or the awards ceremony or the new movie or patriotic events.

Unlike the other civic buildings, the Carnegie was ours.

It was open. Day after day, year after year.

Free and open. 

Ever renewing itself as the Carnegie renewed the world for us, its doors opening to us like the covers of its wondrous books.


At the Twelve Bridges Library

Free Mother Goose on the Loose: 10:30 or 11:30 a.m. Thursdays for kids

Free story time:  3:30 p.m. every Wednesday for kids

Friends of the Lincoln Library book sale from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 13.

Events are sponsored by Friends of the Lincoln Library. The Twelve Bridges Library is at 485 Twelve Bridges Drive.

 This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To reach the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 1177, Lincoln CA 95648, contact 434-2404, or Jane Tahti is the Friends of the Lincoln Library secretary.