Some of you may recall the “Why We Fight” series of films made by Frank Capra during WWII. Great propaganda, but unfortunately they bear little relation to my story here. (But they came to mind as I started typing).
A few years ago a friend recommended running for the board. He had probably said this to many people, but for me the suggestion rang a distant bell, which begins with a story…
Soon after my parents got married my mother became pregnant, and unfortunately miscarried. While she was in the hospital she asked my father to stop by the local library and get her some books to read.
The Free Library Of Philadelphia was founded by Ben Franklin, and was a legendary institution. But the local branch that my dad went to, at my mom’s request, was a disaster. It was on the second story of an old church, was lit by a few old exposed bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and the books were in poor shape.
My dad got it into his mind that the library system should be incorporated into the City government, with sufficient funding to meet the needs of the baby boom that was beginning (this was in the early 1950’s). He became involved in local politics, and led a movement to have the library city pulled into the new Home Rule Charter, which was being drafted and voted on at that time. My dad was successful and when the Home Rule Charter was adopted in 1952 it included the library system.
My local library was the one on Wadsworth Avenue in the Mt. Airy neighborhood. And when I was a kid (I haven’t been there in many years – so I don’t know if it is still there) there was a framed photo on the wall, showing the ground-breaking ceremony with my dad digging the first shovel. The other branch that I frequented in High School, the Northeast Regional Library, had a similar photo, also featuring my dad.
After my dad successfully led that movement other cities followed. Boston was next, and then every major city in the US. My dad made a real impact, for me, for my city, and for the whole country.
I have no illusions. I doubt that my service to the community will ever have the impact my dad had. But the drive to accomplish good for the community is in my blood. And I hope to instill it in my children, in honor of the grandfather that none of them ever met.
Please help me continue on this path. Come to the SORO Festival this Sunday and vote for me.