Sunday, June 13, 2010

In memorium of Effie Lee Morris

In honor of my old friend Effie Lee Morris, children's librarian and tireless advocate for children and literature who died this winter and whose memorial service is being held Monday at the San Francisco Main Library, I am re-posting my June 9, 2008 blog post:

Two Old Ladies

More stuff has been crammed into the past week than I can believe. End-of-year parties, Sophie's 8th birthday, Aaron's preschool graduation, a full weekend workshop for me, and grabbing hold of its foothold tenaciously, the San Francisco Chapter of the Women's National Book Association's 40th birthday party, which I almost couldn't squeeze in. But heck, it was on the calendar for longer than some of the rest!

I was exhausted--Jon had been traveling and I'd been single-parenting all week-- but Saturday night found me at the historic Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco sitting around a table with women from all over the country. We were moms, grandmas, writers, agents, publishers, book lovers, and chapter presidents. With, of course, lots of combinations of the above.

This was an historic event. I don't know what it is about 40th's. They somehow seem like a bigger deal than 50th's, more of a magical number. Like 40 years wandering in the desert.

Anyway, we hard a great speaker -- humor writer Beth Lisick. She was very funny and genuine and started off with, "I feel like I'm with my people." There were speeches, food, books. At the end, almost delerious to get to my car and get home and fall into my bed, I got on my jacket to walk the couple of blocks to the parking garage. Effie Lee Morris, our founding member and president of 40 years ago, and Adele Horwitz, a member and former president for about as long, were heading to the garage, too, so we walked together.

Adele walks with a cane now, and both of them are slower than they used to be. I thought of myself as their escort, but they didn't need me, not even to lean on an arm. I refrained from offering my arm, even though I felt like I should. After all, they were old ladies. But some old ladies! Effie Lee still serves on several boards, has a special collection named for her in the San Francisco Public Library as well as an annual children's book lecture there. She held forth on the podium that night on the history of the WNBA SF chapter and its many members and glories. She would have talked all night if we'd asked. Adele was driving an hour home and does it all the time. She has raised her children, her grandchildren, and now in her retirement, her great-grandchildren as well.

These two old ladies ARE supports in their homes and communities, with experience far beyond mine, and I knew I could lean on them if needed and they wouldn't bat an eye.