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Jul 10, 2012
Childhood Summers at Butzel Library in Detroit
A Michigan parent remembers biking over to this now-closed urban spot to borrow books and transform vacation into a world of exploration
Both my daughter and daughter-in-law are expecting babies this summer. With that, we are about to begin a new chapter of summer memories when the girl cousins arrive. I am busy making preparations – one of which includes packing up books from my children's childhoods and sending them to new and awaiting nurseries.
Doing that brought a vivid memory to mind of my own childhood and how I spent some wonderful summers: On my bike, with my books, and Butzel Library in Detroit, Mich. My mom would let me ride my bike the two or three miles to the library every day. I'd park my bike in front of the grand wooden doors and go into the cool foyer, past the librarian's desk and into the fiction area.
I liked the way the books felt, and I would scour the shelves to find five or six that I thought I could lose myself in. I'd check them out, put them in my bike basket and ride home – eager to enjoy my book booty during the lazy summer afternoons. This ritual of my childhood summers lasted well into high school, past the juvenile area and into more scholarly rooms at the Butzel – and long after I'd traded my bike for my dad's car.
The other day I saw a picture of the old Butzel in a magazine article about Detroit. I traced my fingers over it – and smiled about the memories it and I shared.