Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

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Books and books and all you do is eat the pages

Monowi, Nebraska, and the library thereof

This follows on my previous post about roadtripping in Nebraska.

When we got to Monowi, as previously noted, the town was barely there.

Monowi city limits

The population is now one, since Rudy Eiler passed away last year. His widow, Elsie Eiler, runs the Monowi Tavern and is the last inhabitant of the town. mme_publisher and I learned about this from a recent L.A. Times article. mme_publisher thought it would be a nice gesture to donate books from the Wheatland Press line, and since I had business in Nebraska anway, I took them along in person. I was able to deliver all four volumes of Polyphony, along with All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories, American Sorrows, Dream Factories and Radio Pictures, Greetings From Lake Wu, Paradise Passed and 20 Questions.

Elsie was very nice. She appreciated the books.

Elsie with Polyphony 4

She told Michael and I that she'd been receiving mail from all over the world, including boxes of books, and that the story about Monowi and the library had made it to Japan and Russia, among other places. The Times of London had sent a reporter to do a follow-up, and there was a grade school class in California that was now writing to her. Elsie is a very level gal who handled this great aplomb.

We talked about history of the town a while, too, and her life there. Her parents moved there when she was 18 months old, and she'd lived there all her childhood, going off for a while for her husband's enlistment in the Air Force and some employment before returning. The town has dwindled around her from several hundred people to just her and her husband Rudy, who passed away last year. His dying wish was to establish a library, which Elsie and her children did.

Library sign

Library building

Library interior

After talking a while, we drove around the town (two blocks of abandoned houses), then hit the road south for Gibbon, Nebraska.

Next: House and barns and worms, oh my
Tags: monowi, nebraska, photos, travel

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