Fountain of Wonder and Awe
Stephen Rowe, PhD
GHS Class of 1970

March 3, 2012

Garrett’s Public Library, where I spent many formative hours as an adolescent, will be 100 years old come 2014. Looking toward that horizon, I want to publicly recognize and thank its very many employees, patrons, supporters, and “friends” over those years.

I always disliked school, but the library was a place of wonder and awe. Depending on my mood and temporal interests, I might visit shelves containing volumes on astronomy, world religions, mathematics, philosophy, sociology, literature, chess, So many possibilities! There I would randomly scan the prefaces, introductions, tables of content, and pages of books far too many to read. Often I would check out and read a book, but the main pleasure was to fathom the extent and depth of knowledge that lay “out there.”

I recall so clearly relishing the arcane symbols of calculus in a physics book, and the keen anticipation that someday I would understand their meaning and more. I remember a cryptic introduction to the Tao: “He who knows cannot say, he who says cannot know.” How that enigma thrilled me at age 15! Of course I didn’t understand it then, but that is precisely why it was so exciting: it presented irrefutable evidence that a universe of learning and knowledge lay beyond the dreary, suffocating classroom walls!

Then there were the periodicals – all kinds of magazines on all kinds of topics. I remember reading that complex DNA-like molecules were discovered in meteorites. Should that be taken as evidence of life in outer space? I never decided; in retrospect it was the questions that were important.

No one else knew how important that library was to me. Certainly I couldn’t have articulated these feelings at that time. But today I wonder, how many others might have shared similar feelings throughout its hundred-year past? And how many more might share similar feelings throughout the hundred years to come? Again, while these answers may never be known, the questions are important. I will venture that with respect to the future, the answer will be “More than might have been, thanks to the Library’s many friends and supporters.”

Posted 06.25.22
Voices of Garrett Schools Alumni
Carolyn Ridenour (Class of 1960), Historian
Garrett Schools Alumni Association