Walking down the long, long, hallway, the last two doors on the left and right seemed always to be opened. Looking in to the right, you saw a large number of books stacked about the room in various metal contraptions that looked like flattened bookcases. Some stretched from floor to ceiling, and some stopped halfway up the wall. Some of these contraptions actually stood in the middle of the room with people walking around them. Each flattened metal shelf seem to contain a large book, often red in color, with large gold writing and numbers on the side. What mysteries did all these books contain?
The room on the left was somewhat different. It was lined floor to ceiling with narrow metal drawers. They were painted gray in color, each with a small rectangular label on the outside. In the room, there was one of those specialized ladders that had wheels and a platform at the top. This could be moved about and used to reach those drawers at the top. Inside each drawer were tightly packed, letter-sized records with names and dates written on the outside. What stories did these records tell?
Needless to say, a nine year old was easy to overlook. Most of those walking about must have thought I was certainly lost, or that I was waiting for an adult who was there checking some record. At any rate, I soon figured out that there were Deed Books, Marriage Records, Will Books, Tax Books, Military Records, Church Records, and Order Books. I was not sure what an Order Book was, but that understanding was yet to come.
Of course where do you start? I would take a book near the floor, which was much easier to manipulate, and open to a random page. The writing style was amazing to me...all the slanted, twisted letters with funny looking lines and squiggles. At places, it looked like some of my own doodling. Man I thought, I could get along with this guy.
It would take me several years before I could reach and lift the books higher up on the shelves. By that time it had become clear that an index was the secret key needed to open the stories and mysteries within all these books. Finding the index became my starting point.