Friday, May 9, 2014

A Bookish Decatur Fairytale Come True

It began in  2010, when I first saw a Little Free Library on nearby Wilton Drive and envisioned one in my yard. The registered number of that LFL was #838.

In May, 2012, my friend Kaaren and I saw a doll house on her neighbor’s curb, discovered it was up for grabs, dragged it home, and asked my husband to convert it to a Little Free Library for our yard. Little did we know we had set in motion a string of events that would eventually capture the imagination of all our friends and neighbors.

Ode to the Mystery

on Pinetree Drive
                               ~Debby Miller  

1.  A dollhouse, outgrown and discarded,
From Burlington to Pinetree was carted.
            Intended to be
            A library free,
Right away, the new owner got started.

2. It would be the best birthday gift ever.
His wife would so love the endeavor.
            He’d build a new roof,
            Add a door, waterproof,
To keep her books safe from the weather.

Six months later, the unimproved dollhouse was still in the garage . . .

3. Alas, the great plan had a hole.
For his schedule was out of control.
            Too soon came the date.
            Her gift would be late.
But at least he could mount it on pole.

So, in November 2012, on the eve of her birthday . . .

4. He worked by the light of the moon.
It was worth it to hear her croon.
            “A Little Free Library?
            A gift extraordinary!
And I know you will finish it soon.”

5. But the weeks, they came and they went.
His time by his job was well-spent.
            Then one day sublime,
            In the fullness of time,
A small change became evident.

By now it was January 2013 . . .

6. First—a tiny table and chair.
The mystery was, “Who put it there?”
            We questioned our friends.
            All leads were dead-ends.
So, how did it come, and from where?

7. Soon a miniature cupboard appeared.
Still, nobody volunteered.
            More pieces showed up,
            Nobody fessed up,
But at each new arrival, we cheered.

8. A fireplace, a bed, and a stove,
Pieces tucked into every alcove.
            A bunny, if you please,
            And a pet Siamese,
Became part of the treasury trove.

9. An easel with original art!
A piano for performing Mozart!
            You were ever so clever.
            We kept hoping, however,
That your secret you soon would impart.

10. One morning the windows had curtains.
We had to find out now, for certain.
            Your ID, kept hazy,
            Is driving us crazy!
How long can you keep up this flirtin’?

One piece at a time, across seven months . . .

11. Your wit simply can’t be outdone.
Your game was tremendously fun.
            From unfinished small house,
            To full furnished doll house,
No question, you hit a home run.

Dollhouse on pole
A closer look

Elfin kitchen
The white bunny showed up on Easter morning

Elf OfficeNotice the cut sticky pads to keep the furniture from blowing away 

Elf bedroom
complete with corner fireplace and custom handmade curtains

Even an artist's studio

with easel and original painting of

 a giant face peeking in the window.

July 2013, seven months after the first chair had appeared, it was time. . .

12. The dollhouse would soon be replaced,
With a library for readers with taste.
            We had finally hired
            An architect, retired,
To finish the job, post haste.

13. When he came to remove it from view.
Little Library was long overdue.
            It was taken away,
            And the very next day.
On the pole came a sign, said “Boo hoo!”

Passersby asked what happened to the house . . .

14. The neighbors had watched it evolve.
Now we all boo-hooed the dissolve.
           But with our thanks, fare thee well,
           And a story to tell,
Of your housekeeping duties, be absolved.

15. One hope remains from the fact
That you don’t have your furniture back.
            We’ll return it toot sweet,
            If you appear on the street,
To join us for wine and a snack.

That was the limerick I hung on the empty pole, minus the photos and commentary between verses, in hopes that the mystery benefactors would bite . . . 

16. Continuing on with the history
Of the ongoing Pinetree mystery,
            With the limerick still up,
            We went out for sup
To mark our forty-second anniversary.

July 24, 2013 . . .

17. We dined in a restaurant from Rome.
It was late when we returned home.
            When we switched on the light,
            Right there in plain sight,
Was a little note taped to my phone.

18. It might have said, “Mystery solved!”
But for us it was still unresolved.
            A note in the kitchen?
            Now that’s just bewitchin’
Does this mean our family’s involved?

19. Was our daughter the mystery maker?
We simply could not wait to wake her.
            She woke in a fuzz,
            But she knew who it was!
Of the note she was just the caretaker.

20. Her story was this: Came a knock.
It was just after seven o’clock.
            Two folks we don’t know
            Gave a friendly hello,
And at last, they were ready to talk.

21. But alas, we were out for the night.
The timing was not yet quite right.
            Folk artist was he,
            A writer was she,
They would just leave their cards and take flight.

22. But not without bidding us well,
With a promise their story to tell,
            Would I come the next day
            Just a few blocks away?
This time I should ring their doorbell.

The next day, with a touch of trepidation, I drove to the Adair Street address on their business cards after seven months of wondering . . .

23. The house was well kept, and disarming.
The people inside, truly charming.
            In three minutes flat,
            We were deep into chat
Of the mystery from both sides, heartwarming.

Meet Bill Kaiser
and Barbara Allen

24. From careers, they both have retired.
And both are creatively wired.
            You can tell it by looking.
            Their home is quite cooking
With orginal art, well inspired.

25. His art fills the house and the yard.
Hers comes out in words, like a bard.
            And it’s beautiful art . . .
            Good taste from the heart . . .
The kind one can highly regard.

26. Their charm, it was hard to resist.
Their energy not to be missed.
            From the start, did they know
            How their story would grow?
Their side of the picture was this:

27. He had spied the small house every Sunday
On his way to men’s breakfast, and one day,
            He fancied himself
            As a dollhouse elf,
And from then on, each Sunday was fun day.

28. Their identity, finally, I knew.
But my family would want to know too.
            I invited them back
            To our house for a snack,
The whole story again to review.

29. Then of course our friends wanted to meet
The elves who had captured the street.
            At their house, a meal hearty,
            At our house, a big party,
We planned for the gather and greet.

30. Meantime the dollhouse had been changed
To a Little Free Library, and arranged
            With an honorary room,
            For the people with whom,
We have since in new friendship engaged.

31. The little room got its design
from dollhouse consultant friend Lina.
            And of course, builder Paul,
            Who pulled it all
Together with craftsmanship fina.

The Kaiser Allen Reading Room

32. New Year’s Eve for the party was cited.
All the people involved were invited.
            With a blanket wrapped tight
            Round the house till midnight,
Oh, what cheers the unveiling excited!

33. More questions were asked, bright and bold,
As both sides of the story were told.
Then come to find out,
With a murmur and shout,
Barbara too, had a limerick, Behold!


       Dollhouse Poem
                ~Barbara Allen

We love our Decatur downtown
The courthouse, the squirrels, up and down
but for a daily trip,
we tended to skip
We'd much rather drive around.

Using Pinetree saved us a lot,
It got us from West Ponce to Scott
To get Chinese or curry,
always in a hurry
we usually took the short cut.

One day a brand new dimension
A DOLLHOUSE, it caught our attention
Raised on a pole
No front, but a whole
house, and a porch/deck extension.

Oh, goody, we said on our way
Someone is going to display
A new place, all shiny
A house, but more tiny
we'll happily track this each day.

But weeks and weeks went by
And still no one would try
To put in a buffet
a sofa, a tea tray
We thought we could hear the house cry.

Bill just couldn't stand the bare
So one day he added a chair.
An artist at heart
He was glad to start
The furnishing with his own flair.

Each Sunday he tried to be sneaky
Although the rain made it quite leaky.
He'd put in a hutch,
a table, not much
Now hooked, he swung by there weekly.

It would require
a place for a fire.
then add something pretty
a little white kitty.

For Easter a bunny
would really be funny.
a lamp and a stool
would look pretty cool.

But all good things must come to an ending
So one day we drove 'round the bending
Did it disappear
Our dollhouse, so dear?
Is this it, or is more a-pending?

We found out the rest of the tale
A project, neglected, went stale.
Without detection,
We'd changed its direction.
Small LIBRARY is coming, all hail!

After the party, we waited until Springtime, April 2014, when . . .

34. Husband Moe took on a big role.
By building a sturdy new pole.
            He and son-in-law Thad
            Worked together like mad
To cement the new house in the hole.

35. Two doors on the front had new hooks,
Scott mapped out a garden for looks.
            Next, Thad prepped the soil.
            The plants were my toil.
Then at last it was ready for books.
Son-in-law Thaddeus Nathaniel
36.  The only thing left yet to do
For our Little Free Library new
            Was order the lumber
            for our registered number
Six thousand seven hundred twenty-two!

Architect and Builder
Paul Buechele

Tiled upstairs patio
with stained glass window
created by Paul

Me with Kaaren Nowicki,
the friend who helped rescue
the dollhouse from Burlington Rd.

Neighbor Tom McHaney
Prime Suspect

Friends Pearl McHaney
and Sara Weigle
Suspects  2 and 3
Granddaughter Makayla
Suspect #4

Grandson Nickolas
Suspect #5

Neighbor Clark Weigle 
piled on by adding a tiny artist's canvas 
painted by his son James.

The Criminal Element
Nextdoor neighbors, Frank and Maureen Glass,
had planned to outline a body and add yellow
crime tape, but we took the dollhouse down too soon.

Thank you, Bill and Barbara, for bringing such fun to our Decatur community of good neighbors, friends and book-lovers

More information about Little Free Libraries can be found at:




Jane Robertson said...

Oh, I am grinning ear to ear :-D The most wonderful story in so many ways. Every community needs its magic! And such a limerick! (I'm reading a biography of Robert Burns and going back to his poetry so have rekindled my admiration for rhyming verse!). We don't have free libraries here - well I suppose we do, in a way, post-earthquake, when odd containers (like a fridge) filled with books, appeared on empty sites in the central city.

I think this would make the most glorious, precious little book and I'll put my name down for a copy now :-)))

Jane Robertson said...

PS I'm so inspired, I've suggested on our community fb page that we might also have a Little Free Library :-)

dkm said...

Wonderful! I was just going to suggest the same. The website shows they are spreading into the world. Yours could be the first in NZ. Fun. For forty US dollars, not sure how that translates to NZ money, you'll get the little wooden sign, and you can even buy a basic little house from them if you don't happen to have a discarded dollhouse in your garage :-)

dkm said...

Jane, I just looked on the LFL website and found two lonely little free libraries in New Zealand---#7348 in Te Horo Beach, and #11,579 in Auckland. They need company on Governor's Bay!