EAST BEND — On June 15, 1985, the East Bend Library opened inside what was once Joyner’s Grocery store thanks to the efforts of the East Bend Homemakers Extension Club and the Ruritans, who founded what became the Friends of the East Bend Library. On Sunday, the Friends of the Library group celebrated 35 years, five of which has been in their new facility.
Unlike most libraries, the East Bend library is not owned by a government entity. Although in partnership with the North Carolina Northwest Regional Library system, it is the Friends of the Library, founded by Donald Love, who hold jurisdiction over the East Bend Library, including ownership of the building in which it is housed.
Member Ruth Wooten, who has lived in East Bend for all of her nearly 90 years, remembers what it was like to grow up in a town without a library. When asked what it was like Wooten replied, “You might as well ask me what it was like to not have electricity!”
To Archie Hicks the difference between the old building and the new facility, “is like going from a third-world country to a modern one.” He remembered the previous facility with, “so many cracks in the walls you could see outside.” The new facility is state-of-the-art with computers, a children’s area and a history room, which houses items from long-time area dentist Rosebud Morse Garriott’s office as well as a portion of the Earl Norman Collection of pre-historic items such as arrowheads.
Sara Harris opened Sunday’s festivities with an appreciation of assistant librarian Darlene Novakowski, who is retiring, after asking Kristian Davis and Amanda Meadows of Forbush High School to play the National Anthem. Harris noted that she saw Davis and Meadows play through Facebook noting, “you always hear bad things about social media. I just wanted you to know something good can come of it, too.”
East Bend United Methodist Pastor Bruce Updike sang “The Lord’s Prayer” as an invocation before his wife Dawn joined him to sing “In the Garden.” They also sang “America the Beautiful,” asking the audience to join him in the final verse as well as “God Bless America” to the delight of the crowd.
Pastor Updike praised the Friends of the Library noting, “It took a lot of giving” to get the library started and maintain it. “It was a lot of hard work and sacrifice for your children and your children’s children,” Updike admired and stated the Methodist ministers who meet at the building weekly very much appreciate the modern facilities.
The charming dances of Judy Taylor’s Dream Dancers then entertained the audience with their “Russian Illusion Dance.” Dressed in half white, half black costumes the choreography created optical illusions that had the crowd laughing and requesting an encore. The Dream Dancers have competed in the Senior Games and like to perform at senior centers and anywhere they are invited. Roy Hancock played his guitar and sang, a natural break incorporated into their regular hour-long show.
Also contributing to the entertainment were the Tornado Cheerleaders led by JV Coach Lauren Stroud and Director Batina Miller. These participants represent elementary schools from Fall Creek and Forbush as well as East Bend.
Ice cream donated by Alex’s Grill and Ice Cream were served on the back patio by Sue Brown beyond a room filled with photos of previous anniversary celebrations. Two quilts also could be found in this room which had been several times donated for silent auctions to raise funds for the library. Although not a part of Sunday’s auction, they represented the history of generosity prominent in the community.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.