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Hawaiian State of Mind

I had just recently become a new Californian when Hawaii became the 50th of our United States in 1959. This remarkable event in American history was undoubtedly front page news on the west coast for months leading up to the official admission date of August 21. Alaska had become the 49th state just months before on January 3. At seven years of age, however, I was unaware of the magnitude of these historical moments.

Growing up in California as an student in elementary, middle and high school, my education was steeped in the history of California statehood and its proximity on the Pacific Ocean to western geography, Less than two decades following the end of World War II in 1945 (in both the European and Pacific conflicts), stories of the war west of California were richly described by middle-aged men who had returned from the bloody and watery battlefields. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945 and Japan on September 1945, just seven years before I was born. It was the battle of Pearl Harbor that still seemed to be in everyone’s consciousness.

I was never fortunate as a child and young adult to visit Hawaii. My peers, whose families were in the military, or were affluent enough to take the 2,399 mile flight across the Pacific, returned with stories of lush greenery, tropical fruit, and daily rainfall. Cliches of the Polynesian Hawaii, complete with grass skirts, fruity drinks, and sumptuous luaus were my simplistic concepts of this exotic place which was as far from Northern California as was my birthplace in Central Massachusetts.

I was blessed this week to arrive in Honolulu for a planned vacation on two Hawaiian islands. Not only did I get to relax on Hawaiian beaches and soak in Hawaiian sunshine, but I visited several of Hawaii’s most precious historical sites in the capital city of Honolulu. One was the National Park Service’s visitor center at Pearl Harbor, including the sacred and emotional USS Arizona Memorial; the other was the Iolani Palace, home of the Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs, King Halakaua and his sister Queen Liliuokalani.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is an island, or rather an archipelago made up of hundreds of islands. Only seven of them are inhabited. The Hawaiian islands were formed by an undersea volcano that is still active on the Big Island, which bears the significant name of Hawaii Island and is the home of the town of Hilo and the volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Maura Kea. New islands are still forming from the activity of Maura Loa. The seven smaller, but still largest islands that make up the State of Hawaii, are Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Kahoolawe, and Niihau. The State of Hawaii is home to over 1.430M people. Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the capital of the state of Hawaii and largest city is home to less than a half million of them.

It is believed that the earliest settlers on the Hawaiian islands traveled from Polynesia, perhaps from another archipelago, the Marquesas Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, a distance of 2,000 miles. They traversed the Pacific Ocean as early as 300 B.C.E. However, it wasn’t until the 1770s that Captain James Cook and other European explorers began to explore the Hawaiian islands. With those visitors came influences and disease that forever changed Hawaiian history.

Until the 1780s, Hawaiian chiefs fought and ruled, fought and ruled, until 1810 when one ruler united the islands into one. King Hamehameha-the-Great established a monarchy that governed until the death of his last heir in 1872. Over the next two decades, several elections, concessions of power, and manipulations of American military and economic interests, resulted in the annexation of Hawaii as a United States territory in 1898. (There are Hawaiians today who still do not recognize the annexation or statehood as a legal act.)

Of course, U.S. military bases and personnel were integral to peace in the Pacific during the first half of the 20th Century after the annexation. However, peace with Japan began to fall apart when Europe went to war against Hitler and the Axis powers. America refused to go to war and Japan recognized this unique vulnerability. Crucial to weakening the U.S. defense was the naval stronghold on the Hawaiian islands, specifically that of Pearl Harbor where the Pacific fleet was critically and strategically maintained.

Call it what you will, naïveté, stupidity, or technological ineptitude, the series of mistakes by U.S. forces on December 7, 1941 sealed a fate. The forces and civilians in Pearl Harbor were caught unaware in the early morning hours that Sunday when the Japanese struck with a precise and fortunate vengeance. Two bombardments of hundreds of Japanese fighter planes wiped out the entire fleet of American battleships at Pearl Harbor and hundreds of its air defense. War was declared by President Roosevelt the next day. It was only months later that Germany declared war and the U.S. was fully immersed in conflict both to the east and to the west.

Roosevelt’s strong and resolute words to Congress on December 8, 1941 are haunting to this day. The attack on Pearl Harbor was one that “will live in infamy,” he declared. Visiting the National Park Service’s Pearl Harbor museum in Honolulu, one can read the original draft of Roosevelt’s speech that he dictated to his secretary just a few hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. In edits, he scratched out the words “world history,” changing it to “infamy” — a shameful, outrageous act. In videos screened at the visitor’s center, one can hear the urgency and anger in Roosevelt’s voice.

Visiting Hawaii was a privilege. Beyond the blue surf, the fantastic views, and the lush landscape, I learned amazing things about my country and the State of Hawaii. I urge you to read more its history, including the heartbreak of Pearl Harbor.

The Morrill Memorial Library’s newest free streaming service, Kanopy, has hundreds of thoughtful documentaries, including Remember Pearl Harbor, an 81 minute documentary narrated by actor Tom Selleck. Our original streaming service, Hoopla!, includes dozens of e-books, audiobooks, movies and documentaries featuring the history of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last monarch, wrote her biography before Hawaii was annexed by the United States. This story of six decades of Hawaiian history can be read as a Hoopla! download.

Of course, the Minuteman Library Network catalog holds a plethora of books, movies, audiobooks and e-books about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Craig Nelson narrates the audio version of his 2016 book Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness. The definitive book on Pearl Harbor written by Gordon Prange and Donald Goldstein, published in 1982, is available in many versions in Minuteman libraries.

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the October 19, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Baby & Me : Infant Massage

Infant Massage

Wednesday, November 15th
10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Infants to pr-crawling babies
Registration will begin October 18th.

Sheryl will teach caregivers how to massage, relax, and soothe your baby.  All of the techniques will be demonstrated on a doll and you will practice the strokes on your own baby during the class.


Saving Time with Audiobooks

I might be the only person neurotic enough to worry that I will die without having read enough books. Some books, like Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia or Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (no offense?), will probably not create an existential void if I never crack them open. But others contain stories and worlds so well wrought that they could change my life, and perhaps make me even more neurotic (i.e., What if the last book I read was the best one and I’ll never read anything better?). In order to cram as much story as I can into my life, I’ve identified areas that produce stress, like a commute around the Boston area or listening to the news, and have replaced them or supplemented them with audiobooks.

Gone are the days of chopping onions and weeping for no reason. Now, at least I can weep while listening to Sherman Alexie’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me with a gin and tonic. No, it isn’t all about weeping–luckily, there is flu-season to think about, too. Flu-vaccine or not, some of us will be inevitably become couch-bound for a few unpleasant days. I’m not a doctor, or a medical professional, but while you’re drinking fluids and destroying boxes of tissues, I’d recommend listening to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series or maybe something terrifying like Stephen King’s It to remind you that things could always be magically better, or terrifyingly worse–like magic-killer-clown-in-your-sink worse. Plus, if you play it loud enough, it even helps drown out the annoying sniffling and coughing that your loved ones (and coworkers) put up with.

As a graduate student, listening to audiobooks on what I affectionately call “chipmunk” speed, which is the book played at double-speed, has helped me get through Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina when I had only one week to read it. I refuse to rush other books, like Toni Morrison’s Sula, which is read by Ms. Morrison herself and feels like the Nobel Prize winning author is reading me a complicated and beautiful bedtime story. And, as a continuation of that sappy thought: having your favorite author read their novel or memoir comes as close to real magic as I can imagine.

On a more serious note, listening to audiobooks has improved my quality of life during moments that otherwise feel unproductive or monotonous. I’ve also used them to re-experience stories that I may not have had time to read again (i.e., Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Classic Fairy Tales) or learn about something that I would have felt guilty devoting time to (i.e., Animal husbandry, bee keeping) if I never thought about it again after closing the book. It is extremely convenient to use audiobooks, too; I keep mine on my phone, so that I can slowly chip away at the hundreds of thousands of books I’ve never read.

Audiobooks are available, for free, through the Morrill Memorial Library, and can be downloaded to your phone or tablet with the Overdrive and Libby applications.

Samuel Simas is the technology assistant at the Morrill Memorial library; he is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Read Samuel’s column in the October 13th issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

Teen Book Club

A Study in CharlotteThis is our first meeting and we’ll be reading A Study in  Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro,  the first book in a witty, suspenseful new trilogy about a brilliant new crime-solving duo: the teen descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.  Copies are available for check out at the Children’s Room desk.

First agenda item for our meeting:  vote on a new book club name!  “Teen Book Club” is awful; please bring your ideas so we can change it to something better!

We’ll also have a short discussion of the book, SNACKS, and a craft.  At the end, we’ll share what we’re currently reading and watching. Bring your recommendations.


Total Eclipse of the Sun

As a child and teenager growing up in 1960s California, I should have witnessed a handful of eclipses of the sun. I don’t remember much about them, though. I have a vague memory of watching the sun disappear while viewing it through a pinhole box as a teenager.

Through the wonder of the Internet, specifically timeanddate dot com, I recently researched the eclipses of the 60s and learned quite a bit about them.

Searching the timeanddate website, by both location and date, I located all five partial and total solar eclipses that were visible in the Northern California sky in the 60s –1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1969. Most of them, with the exception of 1969, were quite skimpy and wimpy. In fact, the 1962 eclipse was visible only minutes before sundown when it slipped below the Pacific Ocean horizon and disappeared. It was apparently the 1969 annular partial solar eclipse that I watched on a Thursday, September 12 around noon. It was a school day in my senior year of high school.

Like some of you, I’m guessing, I haven’t thought much about eclipses since. In fact, the phrase “total eclipse of the sun” is more memorable as the lyrics of one of my favorite musicals, Little Shop of Horrors. You must remember Seymour singing about the weird little plant, Audrey II that he bought for $1.95. As it grows, however, Audrey II changes into a very hungry, very large, very strange plant after darkness descended during the mysterious moments of an eclipse.

This year, the rumble of Eclipse Fever started months before The Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017. Libraries across the country were offered free, safe eclipse glasses in conjunction with an outreach program initiated by the Space Science Institute and NASA. Over two million free glasses were shipped to libraries nationwide.

We had no idea in advance that our original shipment of 100 glasses would fly out of the library within days. Using gift funds donated to the library for programming purposes, we researched the safest glasses and ordered 100 more. And 100 more after that. Our last glasses were distributed between 8:55 and 9:05 am the Wednesday morning nearly one week before the big event.

I was as amazed as everyone else that August day. I stood in the parking lot behind the library as we lent our glasses to curious patrons and we took long looks ourselves. It is an astounding phenomenon to witness an eclipse, even if it was only a partial one for us. The day dimmed slightly, turning a strange yellow color, and the air was perceptibly cooler. It was, simply put, a Great American event.

James Fenimore Cooper (of Last of the Mohicans and Cooperstown, NY fame) witnessed a total eclipse of the sun on June 16, 1806. He was so deeply affected that he believed for the rest of his life that it was a turning point for him. He had been expelled from Yale College in 1805 for instigating a college prank – blowing up another student’s door. He arrived home in Cooperstown and endured his father’s intense criticism and disfavor. Two months later he joined the American Navy.

Years later, Cooper detailed the events of the day in Eclipse, a short manuscript that was only discovered after his death in 1851. His daughter had it published in 1869. Cooper wrote that his memories “of the great event … are as vivid as if they had occurred but yesterday.” Each of the assembled friends and family to the Cooper family’s home was provided with a colored glass with which to view the spectacle.

Interestingly, the villagers in Cooperstown, New York awaited the eclipse with excitement – much as we did in 2017. Cooper wrote this in 1938 in Eclipse when he was about 49 years old: “I shall only say that I have passed a varied and eventful life, that it has been my fortune to see earth, heavens, ocean, and man in most of their aspects; but never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly manifested the majesty of the Creator, or so forcible taught the lesson of humility to man as a total eclipse of the sun.”

In Eclipse by Duncan Steel (2001), the author includes the words from a diary of Mary Avery White of Boylston, MA. She wrote that “the stars twinkled at noonday.” Steel has an entire chapter on the American Eclipses of 1780 and 1806. In both of those solar eclipses, the whole of New England was affected.

Tyler Nordgren writes in Sun Moon Earth (2016) that a total solar eclipse in 1979 viewed in western Washington State was anticipated and celebrated by “gathered throngs.” That night, Walter Cronkite told his nightly news audience that the next total solar eclipse would not “touch the continental United States this century.” There would not be, in fact, a total solar eclipse that would be seen by so many until 2017.

Several authors wrote about solar eclipses just in time for the Great American Eclipse of 2017. The Shadow of the Moon by Anthony Aveni; Eclipse – Journey to the Dark Side of the Moon by Frank Close; and total Solar Eclipse 2017 by Marc Nussbaum are three of them. Several were written for children: What Happens During an Eclipse by Baby Professor and When the Sun Goes Dark by Eric Freeberg. Another book for children, Eclipses by Martha E. H. Rustad has just been published.

In the epilogue of Mask of the Sun (2017), lunar scientist and author John Dvorak writes that “nowhere else in the solar system is it possible to stand on a solid surface and see a total solar eclipse except on planet Earth.” We are lucky creatures. However, he tells us that total solar eclipses will end some day for earthlings because the Moon is receding away from the Earth due to the tides of our oceans. Someday our Moon will simply be too small to completely cover the sun.

On January 25, 1925 a New York Times reporter witnessed a total solar eclipse of the day before. He wrote that “the great lesson of the eclipse to the masses of those who saw it is that one little unusual phenomenon in the skies makes us realize how closely akin we all are in this common planetary boat out on an ethereal sea that has no visible shore.”

New Englanders will be witness to someth

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