It seems as though I have done nothing but bid farewell to people this past month – beautiful people from my youth who I dearly loved.

Today at 4:30pm, Margaret Blubaugh Stiner, more familiarly known as ‘Margie,’ passed away.  While I’ve bid farewell to too many family and dear friends this past month, this one is pretty hard.

The Elwood Public Library

My freshman year of high school I began working at the Elwood Public Library.  Margie was the librarian in charge of scheduling and training the high school workers.  At first, she was not keen on my working at the library because I was drum-major of the marching band and she feared my schedule would always be an issue.  However, the scheduling was always easy, and Margie, after admitting her initial reaction to me working at the library, said that she was so glad she was over-ruled.

Margie, and her husband, Craig, were dear friends with my grandparents, Leroy & Donna Barmes, when they were young couples dating.  Grandpa & Craig played on the same baseball team that was coached by my great grandfather, Virgil “Red” Barmes.  Grandpa and Craig enlisted in WWII together, leaving Margie and Grandma behind in Elwood.  Margie said she and Grandma Donna became much like sisters during this time.

Craig’s middle name was “Dalone” and he always signed his letters to Margie, “From Dalone Ranger.”

After the war, both couples were married and the family years began.

I spent a good deal of time at the library while growing up, and always ventured upstairs to the adult library to say, “hello,” to Mrs. Stiner who, like my Uncle Dewey Smith at the post office, always seemed to have time to chat with me.

Craig & Margie Stiner at my high school graduation

My favorite time to work was Tuesday nights when it was Margie’s turn to close.  Quite often she would have the books shelved for me so we would have some chat time while we worked together the last few hours of the evening.  This is where I learned even more of my family’s history.  Margie adored my great-grandparents – Garrett & Belle Clary, and Virgil & Thelma Barmes – and shared many stories of time spent with them.  Margie’s daughter, Gail, worked as a dispatcher at the Elwood Police Department when my grandfather was an officer, so I got even more stories from a different angle.

For me, it was TUESDAYS WITH MARGIE.  And what wonderful, memorable evenings Tuesdays were.

The Elwood Public Library was one of the highlights of my high school years.  In so many ways, we became a family.  The adult librarians who worked with Margie, Francie Robertson, Mitzi Thomas, Lynn Ishay, Rita McQuitty, and the students who passed through during my era, Janice Strong Eddy, Julie Summers, Shawn Heaton, Cheryl McQuitty, will always be a treasured part of my youth.

My junior year of high school, Craig became the librarian’s custodian, and he always loved sharing stories about the years when he and my grandfather played ball.  I especially loved the summer months when I went in early because I knew I would get to see Craig, and learn more about my family history.

My last day to work at the library before leaving for Ball State University was bittersweet.  Margie scheduled me to close with her one last time.  It was so hard to see her big blue eyes fill with tears as she hugged me.

I saw Margie as much as I could during quick visits home these past twenty-eight years since leaving Elwood.  Shortly before Grandpa Leroy passed away, he and I walked over to Craig and Margie’s house.  Craig had been incapacitated and could not speak.  His eyes filled with tears as Grandpa walked onto their back patio.  After we left, Grandpa stopped at the corner and began wiping away tears.  “I hate to see Craig in such bad shape.  I know he’s not got long.”  Craig died a few weeks later, and Grandpa died shortly after.

And this evening, I’ve shed some tears, too.  I feel as though my a bit more of my wonderful youth has slipped a little further away, and a treasured, beloved link to my family’s past has now ended.  Though her health was gradually declining, and we knew the end was closing in, Margie’s passing is still very hard this evening.

Though forty years separated us in age, our spirits were always linked with our love of family and friends, our mutual devotion to our hometown and its rich history, and our ability to share tons of laughter.

Where ever you are, Dear Friend, know you will always be loved…

Please give Craig, Grandpa Leroy, and Grandma Donna a hug from me…

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