A Day at the Ice Cream Social and Book Sale
In my endless quest for novels by David Baldacci and Lee Child, and books on a number of esoteric subjects, I decided to visit the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library’s Annual Ice Cream Social and Book Sale on July 18, 2015, in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.
I strive to stay inside or under shade any day outside temperatures are predicted to be in the 90s with oppressive humidity. Fortunately, though, an intense morning thunderstorm lessened the volatility in the atmosphere, humidity decreased and, best yet, a zephyr gently drifted over the mountain, rendering the heat quite bearable to the climatologically challenged such as myself.
My first thought upon arrival at the ice cream social and viewing all the rows of tables of books was, “Holy cow!” There was carton after cardboard carton of hardbacks, stacked neatly on the tables, as well as books beneath, all under the fluttering overhang of the tent’s canopy, not to mention all the paperbacks and a separate canopy over the children’s book section.
Books for sale are generously donated by community-minded folks who want to help perpetuate the success of the book sale as part of the larger context of the ice cream social. The whole shebang is a lesson in community. I couldn’t count all the vendors who donate proceeds to the historic library building’s capital fund. The picturesque former Western Maryland Railroad station’s charm has only been augmented by the support of neighbors and dedicated volunteers.
But the battle between want vs. need overtook me as the books were downwind of the food vendors. I’d only had a cup of coffee and water for breakfast, so my needs quickly overtook my wants. Following my nose like a hungry bear before hibernation, I made my way toward the chow tents.
I spied funnel cakes; the Antietam Dairy truck that held cold, creamy delights; barbecued chicken; baked goods; and all manner of other tempting fare.
But this bear made a beeline for arguably the most-pedestrian menu option: a hot dog that quickly elevated to the Mt. Everest of gastronomic heights with the addition of a generous portion of sauerkraut, mustard, and chopped onions.
My hunger satiated, I meandered around, enjoying conversations with whomever was willing to shoot the breeze. Meeting volunteer Mary Ellen Selvaggio, who sold T-shirts with the image of the Blue Ridge Summit Library, and customer Ruth Jay of Rouzerville, Pennsylvania, was a kick. Ruth, a longtime attendee of the ice cream social, declared the crowd larger than any she remembered.
Soon I ventured to the fire trucks. Who doesn’t love a fire truck for all they represent? As a child, I was taught to utter a prayer when hearing a siren. Saturday, I said a prayer that I could ride in a fire truck.
Blue Ridge Summit Fire and Rescue and Fountaindale Fire companies provided engines for free rides. I couldn’t muster up the courage to stand in the line primarily comprised of kids under ten, so I opted out.
Later, I made it back to the book tables. Like a hunter intent on quarry, I quickly spotted my favorite fiction authors. Two bucks for a hardback? Wow.
But, oddly, want and need melded in my mind.
I needed to talk to folks who were sitting in the 90 degree heat—albeit under a canopy, cooled by the soft breeze—who’d sacrificed their time in the interest of Blue Ridge Summit Free Library. I wanted to meet those who had dealt with the risk during the violent weather that morning.
Blue Ridge Summit Free Library (BRSFL) board member Pat McClain said that Lynn Martin, BRSFL board President, went out during the early morning storm to retrieve the younger 5K runners while she and other intrepid folks held onto the legs of the tents, anchoring the canopies from the high winds accompanying the storm.
For me, the day was all about observing what an ice cream social is about: family and folks enjoying meeting up with friends they’ve missed with the simple passage of time, or family or neighbors they’d seen just the day before.
The summer morning that began with violent thunder, dangerous lightening, and a deluge evolved into a beautiful day with folks enjoying all manner of activities, including great music, delicious food, crafts, flowers, fire engine rides, and warm camaraderie.
And then were the untold number of books.
Books don’t require electricity to charge, don’t house a cold monitor for one to read a favorite page turner, aren’t easily smudged, and don’t reflect one’s image before the screen lights up. Books, with palpable weight and texture, touch the senses and fire up the imagination.
A reader can dog ear pages at will, recognize when to turn a page, or know which book’s pages can be treated less reverently as when the reader is in a rush to find an especially salient or expressive passage or an answer to a question in an open book exam.
Books allow one to scribble anything in the margins with low tech tools like a pen or a pencil, the same tools the author many have used when first fleshing out the manuscript.
Thankfully, literacy is alive and well at Blue Ridge Summit Free Library and the community it has long served.
Pictured are Pat McClain, Amy Presnell, Abby Appel, Sharon Byerss, Mark Lyons, and Elizabeth Farmer.
Particpants enjoy looking through the boxes and boxes of donated books for sale at great prices during the Blue Ridge Summit Free Library’s Ice Cream Social and Book Sale.