POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Awarding of the Mary U. Nichols Book Prize

by David Trumbull - May 28, 2010
Pictured from left to right: David Trumbull, Keynote Speaker of the 62nd Mary U. Nichols Book Prize Ceremony; Diana Preusser, Assistant Neighborhood Services Manager, Boston Public Library; Robin Horgan, Eight-Grade Teacher at St. John’s Parochial School; Janet Buda, Branch Librarian, North End Branch Library; Nichols Prize Winner, Aaliyah Mastin; Sister Eileen Harvey, C.S.J., principal of St. John’s Parochial School; Nichols Prize Winner, Nicholas Iudiciani.

Address by
David Trumbull
on the Occasion of the
Awarding of the Mary U. Nichols Book Prize
Nicholas Iudiciani and Aaliyah Mastin
Friday, May 21, 2010
at the
North End Branch Boston Public Library

Thank you, it is a privilege to speak here today at the 62nd Mary U. Nichols Book Award Ceremony. Branch librarian, Janet Buda, graciously provided me with some background material—newspaper clippings from the library’s files—regarding Miss Nichols, the award itself, and the men and women who have given this address in the past. I must say, I bring up the rear of a rather impressive train. Past speakers have included the Director of the Boston Public Library, a well-known radio announcer, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. I bring none of the prestige of those speakers, but I do share with them the love of libraries.

Growing up in a small town in the Middle-West of America, our local library, the Rawson Memorial Library—which by the way, just celebrated its 100th year of serving that small village of 2,000 souls—was, for a school-boy, a window to a world of ideas. That is where I read the news journals my poor family could not have bought for me—National Review on the right, The New Republic on the left—that fired my interest in politics and current events. That interest has remained with me and lead me to my professional life as the representative for American textile mills in matters of international trade law, and to my civic life as local chairman for one of the parties in our American two-party system.

The public library is also were I found Robert Benchley, James Thurber, S.J. Perelman, and other American humor writers. That early exposure to written English as a source of laughter also stayed with me. Today I have the extreme pleasure of heading up a small literary society the Robert Benchley Society. We also give out an annual award—in our case for excellence in humor writing.

The library was where, when was in about fourth or fifth grade, I first read the books of Beverly Cleary. She was a popular children’s author back then. I understand her books are still in print, so perhaps some of you also have enjoyed her tales of the boy Henry Huggins and the girl who was always getting in his hair, Ramona the Pest. I loved those books so much that—with prompting from my sixth grade teacher—I wrote to her to tell her how much I enjoyed her stories about young people who had experiences just like mine. She wrote back and thanked me—I wish I still had that letter from her!

You young people have proven yourself outstanding in English. Congratulations! Keep up the good work. As you get older you will find that reading—reading carefully—, and writing—good clear writing—, will be two skills that can take you far in life. American is great land full of opportunities. Where every girl or boy can grow up to be President, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a scientist, or a dancer, or an explorer. Life is a journey, and the library is a good place to start the journey.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]