Every now and then, I wake up from a dream remembering a word, a phrase, an image, or a name. Mostly these things are nonsense, and they are invariably cause for a sort of befuddled amusement (see, for example, the morning I woke up talking to myself about pygmy jerboas). Sometimes, they lead me on fun little quests as I try to figure out why on earth I would be dreaming about that.
Take this morning. I woke up with the phrase “Danforth Jennings” in the front of my mind. I have no idea what it meant in the context of the dream — that stuff has faded completely. Perhaps it’s an amalgam of character or company names from a television program or film I’ve watched recently. I honestly have no idea, although I think the TV source is pretty likely.
When I hit the internet to see if I could dig up a source, I ran across a little curiosity. When I just threw the phrase in the Google box, no quotes, no advanced option tinkering, it led me to a bunch of genealogical and address info that partially matched, but it also led me to The New England Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1920, specifically the page on which those terms appear in a listing of libraries. Aha! Coincidence! The NEGBD is full of assorted charming advertisements, advice for using the business directory for business purposes, listings of post offices, towns, and railway stations, and census data for New England, listed by state. If you want to look at the whole thing, it’s available for free as an ebook via Google Books, and well work a peek.
The two libraries that my weird little name/phrase found are in Maine, and they are both kind of adorable. The Danforth Library (now called the Danforth Public Library) is a tiny two-story house in the town of Danforth, a wee hamlet near the Canadian border with a population that (as of 2o10) was a bit shy of 600 people. It’s open no more than two days a week in the summer (only one day in the winter), participates in the MARVEL network (Maine’s Virtual Library), and doesn’t seem to have an online catalog. It’s a small community library serving its small community.
The Jennings Library in Deer Isle, Maine is the forebear of what is now called the Chase Emerson Memorial Library, and it also occupies a (slightly expanded) house in a little town (although Deer Isle is considerably larger than Danforth — closer to 2000 residents in 2010). Take a moment to go to the web site and look at the slideshow on the homepage, and imagine curling up with a book near the stone fireplace on some brisk autumn afternoon (a fire that would have been absolutely necessary prior to the installation of central heating in 1998). Another small community, served well by a small library! I was interested to see the list of librarians from 1926 to the present, and to note how their respective tenures in the job have been getting shorter and shorter over the years; the first librarian held the post for 26 years, while the last three have (so far) not been there for more than a year.
Neat! Thanks, random subconscious stuff!