Personal tools

You are here: Home / Archive / 2016 / December 2016. / Nancy's Notes - December 29, 2016

Nancy's Notes - December 29, 2016

Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly, “Moonglow” by Michael Chabon.

 This is it. The final installment of Nancy’s Notes. I’ve enjoyed updating you over the years with some of our latest purchases. It never ceases to amaze me that people have actually read my column.
        First on my list this week is, “Hidden Figures”, by Margot Lee Shetterly. We recently purchased the book and the movie was released on Christmas Day. Before John Glenn orbited the earth a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among this group was a core of exceptionally talented African American women. Possessing some of the brightest minds of their generation and relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills. They moved to Hampton, Virginia and found work at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
        Last week I was watching the Today show and they had three different people (I didn’t hear their credentials) give a review of the best holiday reads. One of the first titles mentioned was, “Moonglow” by Michael Chabon. In 1989, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather.  His tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten.  It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator’s grandfather and his grandmother, a woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of the “American Century,” the novel revisits an entire era through a single life and collapses a lifetime into a single week
        If I didn’t get a chance to visit with you at my retirement coffee on Thursday, I want you to know I’ve enjoyed visiting with all of you over the years. However, even with me gone, the library will still be open Monday through Wednesday between noon and 8:00 p.m., Thursday and Friday between 10;00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.