Some 20 years ago, my mother gave me my granddad's Hamilton watch. Back then, it wasn't quite my style: a square, gold face, small gold letters, a gold twisty band. This watch didn't even have a quartz. It was one of those old wind-ups, which I don't believe are even made in America any more.
But my mother knew how close I'd been to granddad -- one of the few genuinely wise men I have ever known.
This week happens to be both National Library Week and National Holocaust Awareness Week. At first blush, there wouldn't appear to be much in common between them.
But I have a picture from May 10, 1933. A "brown shirt" (Nazi) is throwing an armful of "un-German" books onto a bonfire. The place: Berlin.
In January of the same year, Adolf Hitler had been named Chancellor of Germany, the most powerful position in the government. The aging President Hindenburg hoped Hitler would lead the nation out of its grave political and economic crisis.
Once I caught a Seinfeld monologue about librarians. The gag was that we're like a kid who keeps letting you borrow his stuff just so you'll like him. It all sounds a little pathetic.
There's some truth to it. We quite consciously hire people who hate to make patrons unhappy. So we take the extra step, and try to find a way to make people walk out of the library with a smile on their faces.
But I have decided that there's one area where we're just going to have to get tough.
Last night over dinner, a friend noted an irony in the Columbine tragedy. "Everyone responded with a call to prayer. Yet the one place you couldn't pray was school."
Others put their faith in statistics. Nationwide (according to the Denver Post), roughly 250 people have died as a result of school-associated violence since 1992. Until Columbine, the most people to die in a single incident was 5, in Jonesboro, Arkansas.