Roselle German Reading Club, 1882
Posted By: David Reineke (email)
Date: 11/22/2008 at 12:52:58
I translated the following article from Der Carroll Demokrat, a German-language newspaper published in Carroll, Iowa, between about 1874 and 1920. It was originally published on Friday, 6 January 1882. Any information in brackets or notes at the end are my own explanations. It reads as follows:
“Oh, the long winter evenings!” as undoubtedly some readers of the Demokrat have already groaned or thought. But we must have patience, because although many of this winter’s long evenings are past, the majority of them still stand before us. But what then is the reason that these evenings seem so long? It is a lack—mainly in the countryside—of physical and spiritual pursuits. If the farmer, after the hard labors of summer and fall, is finally finished with farm work, he begins to feel uneasy, and after he has worked so hard, after a few days of relatively complete rest, he begins to crave activity. It is true that the industrious farmer, during a somewhat mild winter, still has his daily chores. But they are not enough to tire out the farmer in winter, when the nights are so long, and the body has time to completely recover during these long nights after even somewhat strenuous work. And when the body is not exhausted, then the mind begins to get restless. During the summer and fall the physical exertions were so great that the mind could not keep pace, because strenuous mental activity could not be tolerated simultaneously as it would ruin even the strongest constitution in a short time. But now, in winter, things are different. The body now feels fresher and stronger, and the mind yearns for more activity, and that is the time to provide it. And everyone should do this, because just as hard work strengthens the body, strong mental activity also strengthens the mind. The mind, or more properly the soul, is indeed what makes people as people. And it is certainly no use in strengthening the mind if we do not use it. But how should one begin to do that? This can be done here in the country by reading good books. But good books cost money, and when everyone has to acquire their own books, this begins to cost a lot of money after a while. So how is one to be able to read good books without needing to spend a lot of money? This can be done through the founding of reading clubs. And people should not neglect to do so. There is such a club here in Hillsdale [Roselle], whose members, for a monthly fee of 10 cents, may read as many books as they want. This club has almost 30 members and contains a library of 100 volumes, which in a short time will be increased to 125 to 150. In addition to scholarly works, among these books may be found travel books, novels, and short fiction. And provisions have also been made for the youth, for children’s books may also be found here. What great satisfaction these books have provided to the members of this club on those long winter evenings when they beguile the time by reading them, while outside it storms and snows. And isn’t it very wonderful when one enters a house and hears the father or the mother reading an interesting story to a son or daughter and sees how the other family members sit gathered around the table following the story with great attention? It must be said that this is just the way family life should be. The reading club here in Hillsdale, called the St. Joseph Club, is the only German reading club in this county that I know of, and I wish it yet many years of success.
Carroll Documents maintained by Michael A. Miller.
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