This is the 17th in a series of guest posts by Abigail Van Gelder, who with her husband, Josh, is journeying across the country on the Library’s “Gateway to Knowledge” traveling exhibition:
It’s not supposed to snow in Texas, so we are starting to think the snow clouds are following us! After grinding through many feet of snow and ice this winter, we sure were looking forward to Texas and its pleasant winter climate. Unfortunately, during our first stop in Azle, schools were closed due to snow and ice. This followed our week in Oklahoma, where we had to hunker down and weather the massive storm that hit most of the United States.
While parts of Oklahoma got up to two feet of snow, we were hit with several inches of solid ice. It ground things to a halt over Oklahoma and Texas for almost a week. This actually led to us to postpone and then cancel a couple show days. Lucky for us, the folks in McAlester, Okla., and Ada, Okla., were very understanding.
While in Waco, Texas, we actually had a visit from an Oklahoma family who was stranded in Oklahoma City during the storm and missed us in their hometown of McAlester. I’m so glad they were willing to make the drive, and I hope they enjoyed the little weekend road trip.
Things finally started to warm up a little in Waco. (At least for us northerners!) Waco would also bring another wonderful guest to our doors – Bernie Rapoport. It is the Bernard and Audrey Rapoport Foundation that made the Gateway to Knowledge tour possible. I have to admit that we were all a little nervous to show off the trailer. This was the first time that Mr. Rapoport has seen the exhibit in person. We always hope to not only positively represent the project at all times but especially to make the sponsors proud.
Josh and I had a chance to show him around, talk about our favorite parts of the exhibit and let him know how the students react to the material. The real treat for us was having Bernie tell us what the Library of Congress means to him and the importance it has had in his life. I was most taken by his view that unlike many organizations, anyone can access the knowledge and resources at the Library. This amazing place is not held for just the privileged but for all who seek to learn. Josh both enjoyed meeting “B” and getting a sense of his passion for the Library and learning in general.
Our second day in Waco brought in some familiar faces. Ron Rapoport and his wonderful daughter Emily accompanied Bernie on his second visit and joined us for a ribbon cutting. We had not been able to visit with the family since our launch at the National Book Festival in September 2010. It was nice to see them again and show how the tour has progressed. I think they were a little surprised at how cheerful Josh and I still are. It’s easy to stay excited, though, when you get to represent such a wonderful exhibit. The Gateway to Knowledge is an amazing tour reaching communities, and we hope to leave behind a lasting legacy in every place we visit.