‘DelawaREADS’ returns in October


You may have noticed that the Delaware County District Library does not have an adult summer reading program this summer, and I wanted to give you a bit of an explanation.

Over the past couple of years, the participation in the adult summer reading program has waned, with fewer and fewer enrollees. Library staff realize adults who are readers read whether or not there is a formal program for them to join. We know thousands of you read with your kids, to your kids, or simply on your own, and a small prize at the end of the summer does not have much influence over your willingness to read. And unlike kids, adults don’t suffer from “summer slide,” the loss of reading abilities. Our ability to read is well established by adulthood.

We also realized reading for many adults includes sharing what we’ve read and discussing it with friends and family. To satisfy this need, I am happy to announce the library will be reintroducing our community-wide reading program, “DelawaREADS,” in October.

The book we have chosen is “The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez, an extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American. Woven into the stories of two families from Panama and Mexico are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you and break your heart.

Certainly more details about the presentations in this year’s DelawaREADS program will be forthcoming, but you should put Friday, Oct. 9, on your calendar. Author Cristina Henriquez will be coming to the main library to talk about her extraordinary book.

Please continue to read throughout the summer and all year long, and add “The Book of Unknown Americans” to your list. This year’s DelawaREADS program is going to be great!

Who was Tessie Wall?

I had a hard time tracking this information down but an Internet search revealed Tessie Wall owned a brothel in San Francisco in the late 1800s. Then I checked World Book Encyclopedia for a more authoritative answer to the question. Born in San Francisco in 1869, Teresa Susan Donohue became the madam of the best-known and most-successful parlor house in the city. She was a ribald, hard drinker with a big heart and is alleged to have out-drunk boxer John L. Sullivan. In 1898, she opened her first brothel but it was destroyed by one of the many fires triggered by the earthquake of 1906. Undaunted, she reopened it in a three-story brick building, a grand affair with a saloon, large, mirrored ballroom, dining room, kitchen, 12 bedrooms and several parlors. She married her second husband, gambler, pool hall owner and Republican boss of the Tenderloin, Frank Daroux, in 1906 but, after he had been unfaithful to her, she shot him twice. However, she was released when he refused to press charges. She retired to a small apartment in the Mission which, unsurprisingly, became a speakeasy during Prohibition. She died in 1932.

What is a newton?

Assuming you didn’t mean the cookie, I checked in The World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia to find the newton (symbol: N) is the International System of Units (SI) derived unit of force. It is named after Isaac Newton in recognition of his work on classical mechanics, specifically Newton’s second law of motion. One newton is the force needed to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass at the rate of 1 meter per second squared.

A book I’m reading mentioned an East Indiaman. Please tell me what that is.

East Indiaman was a general name for any ship operating under charter or license to any of the East India Companies of the major European trading powers of the 17th through the 19th centuries.

East Indiamen carried both passengers and goods and were armed to defend themselves against pirates. East Indiamen were the largest merchant ships regularly built during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, generally measuring between 1,100 and 1,400 tons burthen. Check in “The History of the Ship” for great illustrations of these ships.