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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Thank You Miss Roberts

Friday July 24th, 2009 - Milwaukee, WI

   I have a friend from out of town that had a job interview today in Milwaukee. He knew I’m from there and asked if I’d go up and show him around and make sure he was able to find the place he needed to be. I really didn’t want to go but he asked nicely so I said yes.

   One place I haven’t been in years is the public library my grandpa used to take me to as a kid. It used to be called the North Milwaukee Library but now it’s referred to as Villard Avenue Library for whatever reason. I parked my car and went in to take a quick lap and check my email. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the library smell.

   I used to love going to the library with Gramps as a kid. We’d go at least one night each week and I couldn’t wait. I’d read books there but also bring some home and Gramps had me show him which books I was planning to take home and make sure they were going to challenge me and not just be filled with pictures. He was in my corner more than I knew.

   There was a librarian there named Miss Roberts who used to help me find books all the time. She was there for years and I think Gramps might have had the hots for her. She had the typical librarian look but she was far from ugly and she totally loved helping people to find the right books. One week she helped me find a book on ventriloquism and I loved it.

   I was maybe 12 or 13 but that book really hooked me in. I ended up getting more books on the topic and I asked for a ventriloquist dummy for Christmas and got it. Miss Roberts asked if I’d want to do a show for the kids at the library and I thought I was Willie Tyler.

   My show was horrible and I blanked out on my lines and I remember feeling that sting of major disappointment as I limped out of that room. Miss Roberts came out and lied I was wonderful and handed me a check for $5 which added rocket fuel to my self esteem.

   Gramps didn’t get to see me perform that day and I’m glad he didn’t. I would have been very embarrassed and then he died before he ever saw me do comedy at all. If he was able to see me on network TV I know he was screaming and cheering the loudest of anybody.

   I talked to the head librarian today and asked him if he knew of Miss Roberts and how I could check if she was still living. He looked her up and said he found a listing but wasn’t sure if it was the same one I was talking about. He promised he’d research it and get back to me if indeed it was her and I told him I needed to apologize for stealing her five bucks.

   I really do hope she’s still living and if she is I’m going to send her some flowers or try to find out something she really likes and make her day and say thanks for encouraging a dented can kid who could have really turned out in a bad way. She had no idea how much her $5 meant to a hurting kid and it parlayed all the way into a shot on network television.

   I sure hope something I do in my life pays off a dividend like that. If she’s still alive I’ll find her and thank her and if she isn’t she lives on in me. THANK YOU Miss Roberts!

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