On the campus of Glenoaks Elementary School in Glendale, CA, she is known as Grandma Quick. For the last 26 years that is where Frances Lucille Quick has spent her Friday mornings reading books and telling personal stories to kindergarten through third grade students.
In 1991 she answered an advertisement in the local newspaper when Glendale Public Library started its volunteer program called Grandparents and Books. They were looking for volunteers to spend time in the library’s Children’s Room and go into the public schools (where over 50 languages are spoken) to help the students learn the English language.
Fran, as she prefers to be called, had enjoyed reading to her two sons, and had recently lost her husband of 40 years, William Morris Quick. She thought this would be a good way to help her recover from her loss.
As this school year closed in June, the students and faculty at Glenoaks School assembled on the playground to thank Fran for her 26 years of faithful devotion to them. As a representative from each class came forward she heard such compliments as “I liked your stories about cats, I loved your stories about wolves, and I especially liked the stories you told about growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and living in Mandeville, Jamaica”. She said her eyes filled with tears so many times as these beautiful children came forward with their personal good-byes to her.
When the school term begins again in August, Fran will be approaching her 89th birthday on September 10. She has decided to hang up her walking stick and not walk the halls between each classroom carrying the books she had chosen to read that day from her own collection.
Because of her love and appreciation for children’s books and reading each week she had accumulated a nice selection of children’s books, many she had purchased on her travels in other countries.
Fran and I became friends when she answered that advertisement to volunteer at the library where I was a children’s librarian. Fran was a seasoned traveler and she and I decided we’d enjoy seeing some of the world together. We travelled first to Barbados and the Lesser Antilles on a replica of a Clipper Ship. Our second adventure was to spend Christmas in the southern hemisphere in New Zealand. The third adventure was a cruise through the glaciers and Alaska’s inside passage. Our final journey took us all around Ireland.
While souvenir shopping in all these locations we would visit the local bookstore and almost always find a children’s book that Fran would purchase to bring home to Glendale to read to the children at Glenoaks.
When I retired in 2006 and moved home to Perry County she had decided that her collection of international children’s books should come to our library after she retired from being a volunteer and no longer needed them.
On June 27th eight boxes containing Fran’s collection were delivered to the library in Linden. They will be distributed between the children’s collections at both Linden and Lobelville libraries. According to Gail Spragins, Library Director, “We are so grateful to Fran and to Johnnia for this generous donation of more than 400 wonderful children’s books. It will take us a few months to catalog the books and to make room for them in our collections. Look for them on the shelves at the libraries later this fall!”
Fran and I sincerely hope that Perry County children will get as much pleasure from these books as we did collecting them and as the students at Glenoaks Elementary School did each Friday morning for 26 years.