The Summit Library recently received the following letter from Wilson White, a former Summit resident and Library Board member. He now resides in Paris, but has never forgotten the Summit Free Public Library. Please take a minute to read his letter. The Board of Trustees and current staff were delighted to read about the impact the library had on Mr. White throughout his life. We thought you might enjoy reading it too.
The Board of Trustees, and Staff
Free Public Library
75 Maple Street
Summit, NJ 07901
I can't think of an institution that has advanced my life so beneficially as your Public Library. I wish to express my gratitude to the fine City of Summit, N.J., and to the excellent library staff, past and present.
From 1936 I lived with my family at 149 Maple Street, four blocks south of the library itself. By fourth grade in Brayton School I'd read most of the books available there, and began to borrow, but was restricted to the big library's Junior Section. But what a thrill - nine years old, with books to read at my leisure, back home!
In the next year I'd read what interested me, and began to wonder about the grown-up books. In a long stack, novels' authors were arranged from 'A', to 'D' near the Junior Room. When no one was looking, I'd hurriedly snatch a book, any book, from the nearest shelf and read from it in the Junior Room. So you can see why I was (and remain) absorbed by The Three Musketeers, Jamaica Inn, and David Copperfield – written as they were by Dumas, DuMaurier, and Dickens.
Then, when I got to Summit Junior High, I could take out any book I liked. What a feast! Not only fiction 'A' to 'Z', but my new favorite, play scripts - especially The Admirable Crichton, by J.M. Barrie. Later I turned to science books, some of which were mysteriously withdrawn around 1943. But not before I'd gleaned enough to explain in 1945 the power of the Hiroshima bomb to my somewhat startled father and incredulous younger sister. "Yes, there's enough atomic energy locked up in a railroad ticket to send a freight train around the world."
At Summit Senior High, with my third library card I mined the more abstruse non-fiction relegated to a damp basement room, including Darwin's On the Origin of Species. I continued borrowing from your library after college, my reading greatly applauded by my marvelous father, Wilson White Jr.
In 1961 my new family - wife Joyce Rudd White and three kids, Catherine, William, and Elizabeth, moved to 297 Summit Avenue. We all used the library for many years, and are five proud graduates of Summit High. Years later I was honored to be elected a member, then President, of your Board of Trustees (c. 1980). Our board helped the library find a new Director, approved its first expansion, and successfully resisted the YMCA's proposal to build an overpowering structure next to 75 Maple.
The Board authorized me to turn the outdoor amphitheater on the Morris Avenue side into a perennial garden, which I tended for some fifteen years. The library's second expansion replaced it, but not before Mayor Elmer Bennett led a small ceremony proclaiming 'The Wilson White Garden' on a beige plastic plaque there, now lost.
I am now eighty-six, of relatively sound mind and body, and my will includes three bequests – to my college (Harvard, '54), to Lincoln Center, and to the Summit Library. (However, in view of the bequest amounts, better not plan to rename the building.)
Thank you, my grand Summit Free Public Library.
May you lend forever.
Wilson (Peter) White