The Journal

Lions and Libraries

When I was little, a lion helped me pick out my movies.

Yes, a literal lion. A lion I found at the library, which made him a literary lion, as well πŸ™‚ Sometimes my cheesiness cracks me up.

I’m sure you’re a tad curious and maybe a bit confused by now, so I’ll explain. Growing up, my parents took my brother and me to the library a lot. My mom would read to the two of us every night for hours, so we stocked up at the library. Some of my most beloved memories were of my mother bringing to life the “Little House on the Prairie” books, Harry Potter (who else is as excited as I am to seeΒ Β “The Deathly Hallows” next week?!?!) andΒ “The Phantom Tollbooth.” We loved library books so much, in fact, that we would take a laundry basket to the library in order to carry the load of books we checked out every two weeks.

Among the other delights of going to the library was being able to pick out videos. We didn’t really have TV channels growing up (well, we sort of had three: PBS, ABC and depending on the weather, NBC), so we watched a lot of movies. Besides reading, watching movies together was our family ritual. My personal favorites were old movies and musicals, which could be found in satisfying abundance at the library. And the majority of the old movies I was interested in were produced by MGM. Which brings me back to the lion. MGM’s lion, to be exact. His name name is Leo.

I had a finely honed method of picking out my library movies. It involved scanning my index finger along the rows of videos until I came to one that had the MGM lion on it. If Leo’s roar was silently beckoning me to grab it off the shelf, I knew it had to be a movie I would love.

MGM’s musicals involved, big intricate sets, gorgeous costumes, dazzling dancing and music that made my feet itch to move. A few of my favorites: Summer Stock, Broadway Melody (there were multiple versions of this…1938 and 1940 were my years of choice), Two Girls and a Sailor, Fred Astaire movies, Judy Garland movies, Gene Kelly movies, Danny Kaye movies and Eleanor Powell movies (probably the BEST female tap dancer who ever lived). I also loved MGM’s non-musicals (favorite stars: Cary Grant, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunn…).


Old movies have a brand of magic that movies just don’t possess today. And Leo helped me find that magic. So thank you, Leo. I’m now happily making Reid watch all of them with me so he, too, can enjoy the enchantment. Thankfully, he doesn’t complain and actually seems to like them. He’s a good egg πŸ™‚ Which reminds me, I just found “Easter Parade” at the library earlier, so I think I’ll go pop it in πŸ™‚

  1. Karen says:

    You and your beloved old movies. When I was young we checked out a lot of them from libraries too, and when we had tv I watched a lot of AMC and TCM, but I never knew how much I was missing. Until I met you! You are a brilliant authority on movies and music from the golden era. It makes up another fabulous part of who you are. I love you!

  2. Jeanne says:

    Firstly … can I tag along when you go to HP next week? I can’t WAIT to see it!!!!!
    And secondly … I’m with you on classic movies … but for me it was Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder who beckoned. I love the lion. But I didn’t learn to appreciate the musical until I was in college and had a boyfriend who HATED them. (My insistence on watching them should have been a good indicator that we weren’t meant to be … ahhhh … lessons learned πŸ™‚
    Finally … thank you for watching the LO last night. I miss the movies.

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