The Hobbs Public Library’s patron of the year approaches the essence of a Renaissance man.
He started school in a one-room school house in Illinois.
“The teacher taught grades one through eight in that room and you could hear what she was teaching the older students, so you got to learn a lot before you got into that grade,” Parker said. “Then, when they consolidated all the schools and there was one grade in each room, it was really different.”
Parker said the building which housed the one room school houses were either sold or allowed “to rot down. But a whole group of people in our little town pooled their money and bought the building and the people in town started meeting there once a month. They brought food and just met. And they still do that.”
For Parker, libraries have always been a source of knowledge that he might not have been able to get anywhere else.
When he and his family lived in Gainesville, Fla., one of his colleagues in the lab where he worked, suggested that he ought to start a “dog business.”
“I had never had a dog in the house,”Parker said. “But my wife wanted the dogs in the house and if they were going to be in the house, I wanted them to behave. So I checked some books out of the library on dog training and finally found one that seemed to be consistent and I started working my dogs on the football field that backed up to our backyard. One day a sheriff’s deputy drove by and stopped and I thought ‘Uh Oh, he’s going to tell me I can’t work on the dogs on the field. Instead, he said the city police and the sheriff’s office were just getting into having a K-9 unit and invited me to work with their dog.”
What Parker described as his “dog business” was not his only occupation. He drove a truck for awhile, worked in a Honeywell lab, and when he came to Hobbs in 1960, he went back to college and earned a degree in education at what was then College of the Southwest.
“I tried teaching math at the freshman level, but the kids and the principal didn’t like me and I didn’t like teaching,” he said. “Algebra is the easiest subject in the world, but students have to want to learn it. And if I had to learn math the way they have to present it now, I couldn’t learn it, either.”
Parker is retired now and spends his days doing whatever he wants to do. A good part of what he wants to do is work on his family’s genealogy at the Hobbs Senior Center’s genealogy department and check out books to find out more about a variety of subjects at the Hobbs Public Library.
“I like westerns and mysteries and I also like history,” he said. “There’s a video on on the Viet Nam War and I learned things about it I didn’t know and it mentioned a book I want to read. I love to find out more about history.”
He also loves the library, the atmosphere and the people who work there.
I walk in this door and it just picks me up,” he said. The people are so welcoming and so helpful and so professional when they’re working with an old coot like me. If people haven’t taken advantage of what this library has to offer, they ought to start now.”
Executive director of the library, Sandy Farrell, said Parker is easy to work with.
“He’s a delight. He uses the library a lot. He benefits from it and we benefit from his being here. He uses the library to learn things,” she said.
The Patron of the Year award is a tradition that dates back to 1960. Library staff members nominate patrons and then vote on the nominees and after they make their selection, the library board approves it. The person who is named Patron the Year receives a framed certificate and the right to select a book to be placed in the library. The person or family’s name is also inscribed on a plaque in the library.
Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.