Celebrating 40 years
Maxine Strand and I crossed paths more than 100 times this past week. As you recall, we held our annual Rugby Lions Club “Tables Envisioned” in the lower level of the Heart of America Library this past week. Needless to say, the show involved an enormous amount of hauling items up and down the staircase. Arriving at the top of the stairs, I was greeted each time by the plaque which lists the library Board of Directors when the new library was built. Maxine and the team of volunteers built a wonderful library. This summer marked the 40th anniversary of the library dedication which was held June 26, 1969.
Twenty-four years ago when I met Maxine, we connected right from the start-especially with her wit and her love of books and libraries. We shared stories about presidential libraries we had visited, and I exclaimed the joys of the beautiful library here in Rugby. Maxine immediately said to me, “Did you know it is equally as beautiful downstairs as upstairs?” She quickly grabbed her car keys, and we hopped into her blue Ford station wagon. She tooled me down to the library on that sunny winter afternoon.
The tour was one of delight as only Maxine could do-filled with great wit! She shared with me the ups and downs of being the chairman of this project. Here are a few of her words.
“One contractor said to me, ‘Lady, do you know what you are taking on?’ ” Maxine responded by saying, “The good Lord gave me broad shoulders – so go ahead, I’m ready!” While visiting with a local banker, the banker explained to Maxine if she did it this particular way, she would be breaking the law. Maxine responded by saying, “I don’t want to break the law, I just want to bend it temporarily. So get busy and help me!” As you can imagine, her sense of humor shined through our tour. When we finished in the gleaming furnace room, I knew why she was the chairman.
As we stood in the furnace room, she shared her vision of a spotless furnace room-and believe me, it was! Everywhere I looked there was gleaming tile and spick and span walls. I know I could have eaten off the floor without a worry! Maxine smiled and said to me, “When you chair a project, it is the small details you need to pay attention to.” True to Maxine’s style, she was on site when the basement floor tiles were being installed. The tile installers thought for sure it was a mistake on the blueprint to tile the furnace room. Unwavering in her decision, you guessed it, down went those tan floor tiles.
In the years I have known Maxine, I have always admired her ability to have a handle on what is important and what she wanted. She did not want a dirty, dim, and greasy furnace room. Seeing this room was certainly an epiphany for me.
One evening over coffee Maxine shared the details of moving the books from the former library, which was then located in city hall. A human book chain with over 500 people was put in place from the old library to the new library. Taking the first book out of the old library was Miss Kathryn Cruden, the librarian from 1952-1968. She gave the first book to student, Bruce Oksendahl to start the chain. It was received at the new library by the librarian, Mrs. Florence Hornstein, from student Ruth Goetz. I have heard this story so many times that is easy to recall these names. Many of you, or your children, may have been a part of this unique book chain.
I know Maxine did not build the library, but she certainly provided the inspiration, and most importantly, the leadership to chair this worthwhile project. As the chairman, she rode the hills and valleys of this ride with many good folks and many organizations of this community giving a helping hand. Maxine knew the value of having supporters beside her. They were not only of great assistance but stokers of her energy. Many of them realized the pure intelligence of Maxine, her sound judgment, her intuition and her solid determination. Etched in her mind was the enhanced library we enjoy today. It was probably this perspective and focus that kept her from piddling away her time on small worries and looming frustrations when they arose.
Maxine often shared with me the ingenuity of women on a task. I witnessed it first hand in the studio frequently. She also did mention a few times, “If Moses had been a woman, he would not have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. He would have stopped and asked for directions!” When we found ourselves with a daunting task at the studio, she would often look at me with a twinkle and say, “The difficult we do immediately and the impossible takes a little longer.” What a delight to be around Maxine. Her wise words often tempered the heat of day-to-day tribulations.
On this 40th anniversary of our beautiful library, let us thank the individuals who had the courage to see this building to reality. Today, our library is well kept by Amy Bryn and her concerned staff. (Thanks to Daniel Koenig, that furnace room still glows!) The Heart of America Library is a haven of knowledge, a place of comfort, and the community’s pride.
I share with you a cookie recipe that Maxine used. I know these delicious cookies were served at the library.
Repnow is a Rugby resident.