23 March 2018

Published March 21, 2018 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

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As always, please be considerate to your fellow fictioneers and keep your story to 100 words or less. This does not include the title. Thank you and Shalom. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


“Happy birthday!” Grandma sang out in her Kentucky drawl. “G’wan, child, open your present.”

            Heart thumping, Karen tore open the colorfully wrapped package. “I hope it’s my Cabbage Patch doll! Oh boy, it’s—” She fought tears.—“Tom Sawyer by M-mark Twain. Thank you.”

            Grandma’s eyes flashed. “Disappointed, aintcha?”

             “No, I…”Karen braced herself for a ‘when I was your age’ story.  

            “Betcha never heared o’ the Pack Horse Librarians.”


            “Not many have, I reckon. In the Great Depression, them valiant ladies braved hell and high water on horseback just so’s us hill kids could have something to read.”     




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122 comments on “23 March 2018

    • Dear Björn,

      Your Madeira pics are the gifts that keep on giving. 😉 You sent 22. I’m not sure how many I’ve used thus far.
      In this day and age we have reading material at our fingertips, don’t we? However nothing replaces the sent, “sound” and feel of a real book. Thank you for galloping by.



      Liked by 4 people

  • Thank you for yet another amazing snippet from history, Rochelle. The Pack Horse Librarians did a very important service and their feat deserves to be known to more people. But, Grandma should’ve used a different occasion to educate poor little Karen, I feel. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Francine,

      With so many electronic devices at our disposal, it’s easy to take books for granted, isn’t it? I recently found out about these heroines and had to write some kind of tribute to them. Thank you.




  • You tell the tale nicely. Poor Karen’s disappointment is plain, as is Grandma’s impatience. I think Karen will learn to love Tom Sawyer, though – it’s a wonderful book, and one I have read over and over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    You have to admire these women for braving the elements to bring the gift of reading. How absolutely fearless they were!

    As for Karen, we can all understand her disappointment. It is rare the children who have the ability, at a young age, to appreciate these types of gifts. I like to think Karen will remember this fondly one day.

    Lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      A book is a gift that keep on giving. I was eleven the first time I read A Tree Grow in Brooklyn. Hard to say how many more times I read it but I used to have portions of it memorized. The same with Little Women.
      I agree I foresee Karen looking back on this day fondly. As for the Packhorse Librarians, a friend posted a blurb about them on Facebook and of course, I had to gallop down the trail. 😉
      Thank you. my friend.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Rochelle,

        I cannot agree more. I’ve been reading voraciously since Grade 2. We went through so many stages: Chica D’oro (about a palomino and his girl), the Black Stallion series (my friend was a horse maniac and got me into the two series), Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, I could go on an on!
        Way to run with the idea, my friend!

        Lotsa love,



  • well why not both? the doll and the book – jk

    earlier this month I was just going through books (again – sigh – and I need to pass on about 50 more – at least -) and tom sawyer stayed – I opened it and saw my young son’s name inside – with his signature from a certain age – and placed that book up with a smile.
    and to read it here…

    anyhow – nice dialogue and I like the choppy culture verbiage….

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Yvette,

        “Huh-uh,” is a pretty common way of saying “no” here, particularly among children. Perhaps in a longer version Karen would get both the book and the doll. Then there was my eldest son who would rather have gotten a book than a toy truck any day of the week. I think my granddaughter’s one of those kids who prefers books to dolls. There you have it. At any rate, thank you for reading and commenting. 😀



        Liked by 1 person

        • thanks for thje reply – and now I can “hear” the no in that phrase.
          I think I am more familiar with it as “ungh ungh” lol
          but now I hear it fully

          and cheers to books and toys
          (and side note – did you hear that the Toys R Us founder died recently – only days into the company’s bankruptcy – he left in 1994 – but I wonder if it was hard for him to see it end that way…)


  • As a child I never enjoyed receiving books as gifts, even though I was a voracious reader. I put it down to the choice of books – where I wanted to sink into fantasy and magical novels, I was always bought encyclopedias and other educational fare.
    I felt this child’s pain!
    Love the story of the pack horse librarians – I’d never heard of this, but what a wonderful project. We used to have mobile libraries here, little vans that took books to more isolated communities who were unable to reach a central library. Though I’d guess the funding for those has gone – our government has been closing libraries at rare old rate these last few years.
    Lovely tale and lovely telling as always Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      We do still have libraries, however, they’ve become media centers. The saddest thing is to see brick and mortar neighborhood bookstores bowing under Barnes and Noble and Amazon’s influence.
      I only recently read about the pack horse librarians in a snippet on Facebook which compelled me to dig deeper. 😉
      I did like to receive books as gifts, but certainly not reference books.
      I have to chuckle a bit. I wasn’t expecting to set off such a wave of sympathy for the little girl’s disappointment over not receiving the doll.
      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

      • Our surviving libraries are the same, Rochelle – filled with computers and renting DVDs to earn extra cash. It’ll be a tragedy when the small libraries go for all the poorer people who can’t afford to buy books. What would our community-minded Victorian forebears think of a government determined to rid us of the libraries and public swimming pools they established for the good of working people – they’ve even threatened to stop maintaining parks and in Bristol we’ve had to run campaigns to save some from developers. Huge steps backwards.
        Your story obviously struck a nerve – all of us who yearned for a particular toy as a child and didn’t receive it. These things stick with you! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  • Once again, I’m getting some great history that I never heard of. This is so cool, Rochelle. That really says a lot about the importance of books and reading when folks would risk life and limb for books. I find this inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Eric,

      There’s so much we take for granted these days. A book is at our fingers electronically with a simple download from Amazon. Or a dozen other ways. At any rate, thank you for your affirming comments. 😀



      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve been reading about these ladies. It reminds me of my Mom, growing up during the Great Depression in the middle of Colorado. She didn’t like horses, and her father said she rode them like a sack of s*@t, but she’d get on one and ride to all the neighbor’s houses to get newspapers just to have something to read. She grew up to be a librarian.

    I also liked the not-so-hidden disappointment about not getting the Cabbage Patch Doll (what a crazy thing that craze was!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alicia, sometimes I think, no, I know, that I would have made a great librarian. Now, you can’t even get a volunteer job at the libraries here without a college (bachelors) in library sciences. I dearly miss the years of working in the libraries through school and later in college, and beyond until we moved here.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lish,

      Wow,…can you imagine having to ride like that to get the newspaper? I don’t ride…they’re too high for me.
      As for the Cabbage Patch Doll, I chose it to set the time. I didn’t have enough words to say it was the 80’s. 😉
      Thank you.




  • Such a lovely idea! And such dedication and commitment. It may have been something of a disappointment for the child, but the book will serve her well long after the doll has been discarded. Another gem, Rochelle!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle

    I sympathise with Karen’s disappointment but what a tale her grandmother can tell her about the Pack Horse Librarians! I hope she will enjoy it as much as I did!! Thank you for your super story and, of course, another fascinating piece of history.

    Best wishes


    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Howette Sprague W(T)F,

    One of my mother’s friends used to give me books for Christmas. One year I got a book on birds, and another time it was a hardcover edition of Gilligan’s Island. Unfortunately, there were no pictures of Ginger or Mary Ann inside for my young eyes to drool over–but I do have a vivid imagination.

    Now, off to find a pic-a-nic basket
    Yogi Grin-And-Bear-It

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Yogi Grin-And-Bear-It,

      My library card was my prized possession as a kid. I really wanted my own copy of the Laura Iingalls Wilder books and would’ve loved to have gotten them as gifts. I got dolls instead. Whassup wit dat?
      I get no Mary Ann since she was part of “The rest.” But no Ginger. What kind of book was that????


      Howette Sprague W(T)F


  • Grandmas are wise. Perhaps, Karen would keep the book and treasure the book and the memory one day. 🙂
    I’m glad Rochelle that you found about these “valiant ladies” and wrote a nice fitting story to show what they did for the society. Such amazing ladies! CLAP! CLAP! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • We take for granted so much today. I can remember having to take the bus an hour away to the public library and carrying my loot home again. That was as rough as I ever had it, back in my day.
    Good story. Thanks for the history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Very nice story bringing to light what the Pack Horse Librarians did for the children in Kentucky. My granny was from the hills of Kentucky until she married and moved to Cincinnati. She grew up really poor. I do feel Karen’s pain a bit, I loved Cabbage Patch dolls (my daughter had a few), but she will one day appreciate the love and lessons learned from her grandmother. I know I appreciate those I’ve learned from my own!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I hope Karen enjoys the book as much as I enjoyed Grandma’s history lesson. Of course, she’ll still have the book and remember Grandma giving it to her long after a Cabbage Patch doll has mouldered in the compost. Great voices and characterisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Querida Rochelle,
    Tenia lagrimas cuando termine de leer su cuento.~~~~ : )
    I spoke to my grandon last night and he was excited to be reading chapter books.
    He went to the library with his mom and got his very own library card. Oh, how I loved
    the look on the faces of my girls when they got their cards. We even discussed book shopping when he visits in June. Ahhhh …. the wonder of a book to hold.
    I was thrilled to read your historic story. Brave, strong woman bringing knowledge through books to those in the backwoods. I always enjoy the snippets of days-gone-by that you perfectly share. Me encanto ….
    Abrazos y carino, mi amiga,
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  • A lovely tribute, Rochelle.
    Thank you for introducing me to the awe-inspiring pack horse librarians.
    The little girl in your story surely is more calm and mature than her years.
    Love and best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  • I had never heard of them either. Thanks for another informative and entertaining story. By the way, a book is way better than a Cabbage Patch doll! Hopefully she will fall in love with the antics of Tom, Becky and Huck.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle

    Tom Sawyer was a set book at my school when I was quite young. At the time, I didn’t like it, probably because my teachers said I had to read it and it was more interesting to read the books they banned us from reading! Maybe I should give it another try.

    Anyway I love your story, and it did remind me of that sinking feeling inside when a relative chose a book for me to read that really wasn’t me. However, the local library was my treasure trove and I would borrow (and read) about four books a fortnight during the school holidays.

    That’s absolutely fascinating about the horseback librarians. Like other people, I hadn’t heard of them before, so thanks for introducing them to me and providing that link.

    Will speak to you soon, but still haven’t finished that darned novel. I cannot rush the last chapter, or my potential readers will know I’ve rushed it and feel shortchanged.

    All best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah,

      I felt the same about getting clothes for presents. Now I love books and clothes for gifts. Perspectives change as we grow older…and hopefully, wiser. 😉 I look forward to your novel.
      Thank you.



      Liked by 2 people

  • You had me at “G’wan” I too had never heard of The Pack Horse Library Project. As I was checking it out, it reminded me of Dolly Parton’s literacy program. They had just reached the 100 millionth book and donates that one to the Library of Congress in Feb of 2018. She started the books for kids project years ago.

    Wonderful story Rochelle. “G’wan now, get back ta typin'”

    Liked by 1 person

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