Well, one friend you already perhaps have had enough of, so I’ll save it for last.
First, at the national conference of public librarians, held in Portland this weekend, a good friend from long ago contacted us. Susan Simpson is the head librarian of the Albany County (Laramie Wyoming) Public Library.
Susan is a bit younger than we are, but looks like she is much much younger. She has been a faithful correspondent over the years, and we had come to depend on her to let us know what was happening out there on the high plains.
Wyoming has a unified library system, including the community colleges, so if you have a public library card from Albany County in Laramie, you can go to Jackson Hole in the Tetons and use the library, no questions asked. It sounds ideal. And Susan told us that one of the best things she has is an office off the children’s section. There she gets to see kids reading to themselves, having mothers read to them, looking at picture books, giggling at funny stories the librarians were telling, doing homework — all the things that we hope will happen for kids in the libraries. So we know she is the right person in the right job at the right place.
Seeing Susan made us very nostalgic — her husband, Art, was in charge of freshman composition in Laramie when we left there for graduate studies in New York. We were looking for jobs a few years later at the Modern Language Association Conference in Chicago, when we ran into him.
Jer’s account of the interview was something like this: Art said, “I don’t suppose you’d want to come back to Laramie as an untenured instructor again, would you?” Having just gone through the interview from hell with some now forgotten university, Jer managed to stutter out a “Yes.” Then, the really tough interview question: “You didn’t go crazy back east there and are going to give me a lot of trouble when you come back, are you?” Jer answered that one correctly too, and we spent another three good years in Laramie. Laramie is where I got my love of the desert, where we made other long-time friends, and where we acquired our feeling of equality — with faculties and students and townies alike. It was a good place to be during the early 70’s, and Susan was one of those who helped make it so.
Enough of that kind of nostalgia: here’s the other long-time friend, the little red truck. This is my current favorite Little Red Truck painting. Another plein air one, sitting close beside it on the sidewalk this time. A couple of funny passer-by stories too, but I won’t go into all that.
I made a great black from alizarin crimson and prussian blue, and that success made me like the poor red-now-yellow critter even more. –June