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Margaret Binkley Du Vernet (talks about Miss Titcomb and the bookmobile)

Margaret Du Vernet talks with Ed Klitch about the Washington County Free Library and Miss Titcomb. Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Ed Klitch: Let’s talk about the Washington County Library. Tell us something in your own words about that. And do touch on this well-known lady, Miss Titcomb.

Margaret Du Vernet: Well, when we were seniors we were given the privilege of taking a course at the Public Library that was given by the school librarian, Miss Barkdoll and at the end of that course she asked if there was anybody interested in working in the library. Well of course I loved books so I said yes and for a while, I worked just for a few months I worked part time but then I began to work full time as a volunteer, no pay, but at the end of 9 months one of the girls left and I was given her salary of $15 a month and I was very thrilled about that.

Well we worked very hard and worked full time. And we did all the shelving and we mended books and we washed them if they were dirty and we did simple reference work at the desk and I remember one question was "Did George Washington have false teeth?" Well everybody now knows he did, but we didn’t and we looked very hard through all the encyclopedias and we found out he did.

Ed Klitch: Where was the library in those days?

Margaret Du Vernet: It was on Summit Avenue, right there beside the Nicodemus Bank.

Well, Miss Titcomb was the librarian and she was really a wonderful person. She was a New Englander, she was very dignified, very intelligent. She had a little twinkle in her eye, but she was also reserved. She was very imaginative and innovative and of course everybody knows she conceived the idea of the first book wagon, and it was a wagon with two horses and Mr. Thomas was the one who drove the wagon and he did I guess until it was hit by a railroad train. Then there was a gap I believe and then they began using motor vehicles.

And when I was there it was a Dodge truck and the girls drove it. Miss Chrissinger was in charge of it and we went right out into the country into individual homes and we went two or three times a week we would go and tried to go to each place twice a year.

I remember two occasions that just stand out in my mind. One was a home in Hancock area. It was a very poor home, there were some broken windows with rags stuffed in them and it was just a poor looking place. Miss Chrissinger drove up and she tooted the horn. And eventually this woman came down with her brood of children and a wheelbarrow full of books, and she was very eagerly getting new ones, and I realized as I checked in her old ones they were all books of travel, and I often wondered whether Miss Chrissinger had guided her into that as an escape from the miserable existence she seemed to have.

Then there was another time when we went down into the southern part of the county and Miss Chrissinger went into the home and the parents were there and she expressed sympathy over the loss of a little boy and they invited us in. We sat down at the kitchen table and had coffee and they told her a very pitiful story about their little boy who had just died of lock jaw a few weeks before that. So we worked very closely with people and it was a very nice experience.


Of group photo: Mary Ridenour, Margaret Binkley, Florence Todd, Assistants in Circulation with Fanny Millholland. 1925

WARK and Washington County Free Library

Washington County Free Library, WARK.

Audio recorded 1983 by Ed Klitch of WARK, Hagerstown, for Reminiscing with Ed series. Video pictures added by WMRL 2004. Audio used with permission of Margaret Du Vernet's daughters, Elizabeth Hyde and Margaret Byrnes, Ed Klitch's daughter, Margaret Harshman and Eugene Manning of WARK Radio. The series was recorded at Homewood Retirement Center, Williamsport. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Lenehan.

of photo 1925, of audio 1983, of video 2004

Collection Location:
Washington County Free Library

Washington County Free Library; Titcomb, Mary Lemist, 1857-1932; Public libraries; Bookmobiles; Mobile Libraries

Washington County (Md.), 1920-1930.

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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