View from the Carnegie - the chase

Friends of the Lincoln Library column
By: By Jane Tahti Special to The News Messenger
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We all know that our Carnegie Library has been a treasury of fact and fiction.

But there are many lively stories that the library itself has hosted over the last century.

Here is one story, a short, incomplete account of an hour of great excitement, a story that started at the Carnegie Library.

My father and his friend, Thayne Culbertson, sat at the top of the library steps, sometime between 1915 and 1925. The two boys were probably skipping school and figuring out where they would head off into the countryside with their guns or their fishing poles.

As they sat on the wide granite benches at either side of the library’s doors, a wild encounter began to unfold in front of them.

They looked to the left as they heard shouts and cries. They watched as a man ran down the sidewalk, passing the Carnegie and heading west down Fifth Street. Following close behind ran another man, waving a knife and shouting threats in a foreign language.

The boys tumbled down the library steps, hot on the heels of the man with the knife. Down the street they all ran, rounding the corner at the Fleming Building and heading down the sidewalk to the Lincoln Inn.

At that point, the two men disappeared inside and the boys stood outside, breathless and disappointed. Then, to their amazement and fright, the man with the knife reappeared, running toward them.

The boys turned, running for their lives as they headed back up the sidewalk, thinking their worst fear was being pursued by a man with a knife.

But more excitement was yet to come.

As they ran up the sidewalk heading back toward the safety of the Carnegie, shots broke out.

Bullets whizzed by the boys as they ran faster and faster, the man with the knife close behind them, and behind him, the man who was firing the pistol he had retrieved from the Lincoln Inn. Gun in hand, he had reversed the order of the wild pursuit as he now sent bullets flying down the sidewalk, with my father, Al Fleming and his pal, Thayne Culberson, in the lead but squarely in the line of fire.

Knowing my father, I am absolutely sure this story is fact, not fiction.

But just to check, I had a brief and informative conversation with Lincoln’s gentlemanly historian, Jerry Logan.

The immediate reference he found dealt with a duel between two Mexican men in 1925. That would have explained the foreign language reference and it certainly dealt with pistols. Although it seems doubtful that the dramatic running battle was a prelude to the later duel, in those days, perhaps violent grudges lasted long enough for formal revenge.

What happened? How did it end? If only the Carnegie could speak!

If only the Carnegie could tell us just a little more of what those wide arching windows have seen and heard, watching over us for more than a century.

If only the Carnegie’s doors would open again soon, welcoming us back into its wide world of information and literature.

This is the second of a multipart series on the Carnegie Library.

Lincoln’s Carnegie Library is currently closed, due to lack of city funding. Watch for and join the efforts of the Friends of the Lincoln Public Library in re-opening the Carnegie.


At Twelve Bridges Library

Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.: Read Across America (Dr. Seuss Birthday)

Tuesday, March 12 at 2 p.m.: Friends’ Board meeting

Saturday, March 16: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the free family movie night: “Rise of the Guardians.”


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 Secretary of Friends of the Lincoln Library.