Mason celebrates 250 years: The story of ‘Twig’

  • Elizbeth Orton Jones. Courtesy photo

Published: 8/14/2018 10:35:58 AM

Elizabeth Orton Jones was known as “Twig” for many years when she lived in Mason. She was a children’s book author and illustrator, and her nickname came from her book of the same name.

Here is the story of how I met Twig. It was the summer of 1996, and I was starting my job as assistant librarian at the Mason Public Library. I was new to the town, and to working in a library setting. I was very anxious to do everything right, when after a few weeks Diana LeBlanc, the library director, judged that she could leave me alone for an afternoon. I was thrilled and a bit apprehensive; here I was “in charge” of the library!

All was quiet for the first hour. Then I heard the door open, and someone said, “Where is Emily?” I looked up, but I couldn't see who it was – this person was too short and the stacks were too tall – but she was calling out, “I need to find Emily! Where is she?”

I walked down the steps and around the stacks to see a tiny woman with fluffy white hair and mismatched clothes, looking up at the books. She peered up at me (I am all of five foot three inches). I felt, “Help! This is someone to be reckoned with! Will I ever figure this out? How can someone so small seem to fill the whole room?”

“Um, yes,” I said weakly, “Emily? You are looking for ...”

“I know she's here somewhere” she said; “I can't find anything at home; you see my books are all confused; the poets are the hardest to keep track of.”

“Um...poetry...” I ventured. “Do you want a book...?”

“Yes, surely you know where EMILY is – on one of these shelves?”

“Emily Dickinson! You are looking for her poems?” At last I understood. (You might say that I had finally “twigged” her meaning.)

“Yes, the poetry is right over here, number 811. Here you are!” and I pulled down a volume from a top shelf. It was The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, published 1927, with an old-fashioned green-and-gold cover and a lovely sepia-toned photograph of the author. It had been in the library since 1967.

With a cry of joy she hugged the book. Then it was merely a matter of our telling each other our names, and I checked “Emily” out to Twig (aka Elizabeth O. Jones, Caldecott Award recipient in 1945), and admitted that I had written some poems, but I would never call myself a poet.

Twig went home happy, and I thought perhaps this job will work out for me. So I stayed in the Mason library for the next 22 years.

Today the Mason Public continues to be the Library for the Mason Elementary School along with story time for preschool, adult book group, as well as annual Holiday and Summer Reading Programs.

Visit 250th Celebration at the Mason Public Library which will include original works done by local authors and rich history displayed as a walking time line.

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