St. Bernard’s School had a class reunion recently in which the school showcased, among other things, its new library.
I remember the old library, or more correctly, the 1950’s version of it, very well. I also remember a few stories about events that transpired inside that repository of knowledge, stories I can’t or won’t tell. But my fondest recollection was of my favorite library book. Yes, it had the yellow and brown cover pictured below: “How to Make a Home Nature Museum” by Vinson Brown.
I checked this title out of the library at least a dozen times. It wasn’t the kind of book you just read through from cover to cover. It explained in fine detail how to collect specimens, mount them and display them. These projects took a lot of time — longer than you are permitted to keep a library book.
Inspired by the reunion, I looked up my once-beloved book on Amazon and sure enough, there were several copies available in excellent condition. So now, 60 years later, I possess my very own copy and can study it as long and as often as I like. My personal copy once belonged to another library, located at Le Tourneau University in Texas. It still has a library card pocket glued to the inside front cover. But it is sadly stamped in red ink: “DISCARDED.” Why did they have to put it like that?
Figure 5, below, illustrates how much fun building a home nature museum can be. Here’s the plan for a box designed to catch night insects. It was diabolically ingenious. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t nearly as fascinated with this device and refused to underwrite the cost of materials, especially a kerosene lantern and poison for the killing jar.
Due to a shortage of funding, most of the exhibits and displays I conceived never went past the sketching stage. But what wonderful images they were!
Sixty years ago, I was always meaning to write a fan letter to Vinson Brown. I suppose it is now too late for that. But maybe his sons, Kirby and Jerry, whom he acknowledged as “good companions on many an adventurous collecting hike” will find this post. If you are still out there, guys, send me an email. I’d like to express my gratitude.