The Haunted Castle
When I was a child there existed a castle, a haunted castle full of spirits. It was a fortress which stood in the midst of an evil forest populated by strange and devilish creatures. I was a ten year-old who had no defense against such malevolence, save for my own naïveté. I had heard tell of the place, for it was spoken about in hushed tones by those neighborhood wise women who toiled as keepers of the scrolls. They spoke of its majesty, its quietude, and the mysterious wizards who trod upon the polished granite floors, and climbed the wrought iron stairways. There was even talk of an Egyptian mummy that "lived" in the basement.
The "forest" a cluster of bars, strip clubs, pawn shops and transient housing. The "creatures" were winos, drifters, muggers and hookers. The "Castle" was the Central branch of the Minneapolis Public Library. I only went in it once, for it was downtown, and a five mile bus ride. But I simply had to go. As you can see, the exterior (which hadn't changed in 60 years) was formidable. The interior was dim and what light there was came from large globes, hanging from chains. I remember wrought iron and shelves of old leather-bound books. I was there looking for Bram Stoker's Dracula but I left empty-handed, being too shy to ask the desk librarian for assistance. I ran from the building in near terror. In a few years, a new modern library was built at the other end of downtown, with walls of glass, a planetarium, and a large museum. It was a friendly place, OK in its own way. Now it has been demolished as well, replaced by a stunning, although somewhat intimidating modern structure by a famous architect.
My childish fears were groundless, of course, but there really was a mummy!
Special thanks to Rose for her post which revived this memory.
Image from The Library of Congress, via Shorpy.