NOTES FROM NAPANOCH #15
Marion - Part One
by Joe Bevilacqua
What can I do, my dear, to catch your ear
I love you madly, madly Madam Librarian...Marian
Heaven help us if the library caught on fire
And the Volunteer Hose Brigademen
Had to whisper the news to Marian...Madam Librarian!”
I recently found myself singing this song from “The Music Man” as I drove to the home of Marion M. Dumond, retired Library Director from the Ellenville Public Library.
It was our first encounter and she was quick to point out her name is spelled differently than the fictional character in the musical.
As I entered her kitchen, the bespectacled cherub-faced woman was meticulously cutting a large bag of apples from a friend's tree into tiny perfectly shaped cubes. I was there to talk to her about her volunteer work for the Ellenville Central School District.
An hour into our conversation, we had not yet gotten to the subject. We eventually did talk about it, but along the way, Marion told me so many wonderful stories, I have decided to share some of them in this and some future columns.
Here is the story of Marion's early years, in her own words:
I was born Marion Milk Dec. 28, 1935, in Callicoon, to Helen and Larry Milk. Larry Milk was a small business man, very active in politics. He spent fourteen years going to Albany with the Assemblymen from Sullivan County.
I can remember my parents going door to door. Now, this was a rural community. At the time the township numbered 600 people and we always used to laugh and say, that was on a good day--no funerals and at least one bird.
Polio had reached epidemic proportions and we played in the Callicoon creek and Delaware river that we used to play in as kids. My mother was very concerned and felt that there may have been something in the streams that contributed to the outbreaks of polio. It was well known that upstream there might be the carcasses of dead animals, there were certainly trees that had been blown down, home septic systems that drained into the water.
My mother went door to door collecting money for a swimming pool in this little tiny hamlet of Callicoon. The swimming pool got built and with it we got an athletic field, a baseball diamond, and a tennis court. Ultimately, they built a recreation center.
I think it's one of the things that inspired me to try to be involved in whatever community I lived in, because I could see the difference that one person can make if they are committed to what they believe in.
I went to school in Callicoon, the Delaware Valley Central School. I was in a class of twenty four students in my freshman year. I had some absolutely marvelous teachers, won a couple of scholarships, and opted to go to Marywood College in Scranton, PA, because they offered a undergraduate minor in librarianship.
I had never been in a public library. We didn't have one in Callicoon when I was growing up. The closest one was Monticello I think and we weren't in Monticello that often and it was for just Monticello people, long before the days of library systems and free access. I had gone to parochial school first through the eight grades and I was lucky enough to have had a nun as my advisor who was absolutely marvelous.
In sixth, seventh grade, you start talking about what you want to be when you grow up and she said to me, “Marion, you ought to be a librarian.”
Now this little parochial school didn't have a library either but I read about libraries and she said,
“You have what they need. You have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and you like people and that's what librarians do. They bring knowledge and people together.”
The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Gee I'd like something like that.”
When I got to high school, my guidance counselor also taught Latin and German so you can imagine what kind of time she had for guidance work. I saw her twice a year and every time she said, “You are a good student. You are going to be a teacher.”
And I would say, “No, Mrs. Stengel, I'm not going to be a teacher. I am going to be a librarian.”
"That's silly, Marion, you are going to be a teacher.”
So she guided me into all of these programs for people that were going to go on to be teachers.
I went to Marywood for four years, graduated suma cum laude; went on to Syracuse University for my masters degree in librarianship and started my professional career as a children's librarian in Thrall Library on Orchard Street in Middletown.
In future columns, Marion Dumond will tell the story of how she met her husband, how she came to live and work in Ellenville, the planned restoration of the Hunt Memorial, and, of course, the volunteer program at the Ellenville Central School District.
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