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From the desk of Alison Gibson, Director
Last year, Rosa Washington Riles was inducted into the Brown County Historical Hall of Fame. Born in 1901 in nearby Red Oak, her smile and congeniality allowed her to be one of the best and most recognized personifications of Aunt Jemima, starting around 1923. Her career in marketing led her to travel around the tri-state area, and it was always the featured event when Rosa set up either in a grocery store or helped in a fund-raising by working her pancake magic. Her image was nationwide on the millions of boxes of pancake mix. Today, her image and the Aunt Jemima name are gone from the pancake mix and syrup, both considered negative stereotypes. We don’t know how Rosa felt about it, but hopefully having a career for many years in a different era was a mostly positive experience.
The Red Oak Presbyterian Church has graciously loaned the portrait of Rosa Riles to the library, and it is currently hanging in the reference area of the library. They have also allowed us to scan two photographs of Rosa ‘in action’. Rosa passed away in 1969, and is buried in the Red Oak cemetery.
We celebrate her successes and her family history, being a part of the local history fabric of the area.
April is a good month for new books, and of course covers a wide range of interest. In the fiction category, we of course are adding the latest James Patterson title The Murder Inn, John Sandford’s Toxic Prey, Sara Paretsky’s Pay Dirt (A V.I. Warshawki novel), Marcia Muller’s return to Sharon McCone mysteries with Circle in the Water, Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Museum of Lost Quilts, David Baldacci’s A Calamity of Souls, and even Mary Higgins Clark’s It Had To Be You. Patterson makes the non-fiction list as well, with The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians, short letters of love from people of all walks of life that either influenced or were influenced by the magic of books. Hampton Sides delves into the history with The Wide Wide Sea: Imperial Ambition, First Contact that the Fateful Final Voyage of Captain James Cook, An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erik Larson’s much anticipated new narrative non-fiction titled The Demon of Unrest: A Saga of Hubris, Heartbreak and Heroism at the Dawn of the Civil War. Just a smattering of new titles, there are so many more!
FYI: May will soon be here, and with that comes graduation and alumni gatherings. The Ripley library is once again a location for purchasing RULH alumni tickets.