Uxbridge (or, as Terry Fallis amended it, since it was a formal dinner, “Tuxbridge”) staged a fine “Book Lover’s Ball” on April 14 in aid of the local Library.
The setting was the local “Wooden Sticks Golf Club,” a name that spoke to the ancient tradition of golf clubs with hickory handles. I was able to mention that in my ancient Scottish village, I actually grew up playing golf with “wooden stick” clubs, which at the time seemed normal to me. But then, true to my “make things last” Scottish roots, that evening I was wearing the tux that my parents gave me as a 21st birthday present. Dinner jackets don’t change much over 47 years, and nor does my lean shape — nor my respect for my parents’ admonition that if I looked after the tux properly I “should get many years of wear out of it.”
The excellent Terry spoke about his three books (The Best Laid Plans, The High Road, and this fall’s Up and Down, which will prove that he can make readers laugh, and also make them cry) and delighted the audience after the salad course. I did my stuff after the (very fine) chicken course, talking about a few of the authors featured in my book, and telling stories about them.
But the best speaker of the evening — and by far the best storyteller — was Michael, a local dentist. He spoke about his family’s experience escaping from Vietnam as “boat people” who were sponsored by kind people in Uxbridge. The local librarian made a special point of always asking him what he was reading, and, like dental patients flossing before an appointment (an interesting professional analogy), he read voraciously, to be always able to answer her question.
When the family was moved away from Uxbridge to downtown Toronto, although his parents both worked two jobs, things were hard for the young family in a tough area. In time their Uxbridge friends contacted them with an offer that would bring them back to Uxbridge, with a down payment on a house supplied by an anonymous benefactor. The family accepted gladly, on one condition: that they learn the name of the benefactor, in order to pay him or her back.
It was the librarian.
Now here was Michael (like his brothers and sisters a successful professional) giving back to the Uxbridge community by providing major sponsorship for this fundraiser for the Uxbridge Library.
Stories really matter, don’t they?