Monday, July 17, 2017

Monthly special topic: Summer vacation homework


Summer homework, to the best of my recollection, wasn't a big thing way back when I was growing up in Missoula, MT, half a century or so ago. As a matter of fact, the concepts of homework (school work) and vacation—"freedom or release" from school (, vacation, definition 3), still seem diametrically opposed. Air-conditioning wasn't a big thing in many places, either.

Reading, however, was a big thing, at least in my family. Visits to the public library downtown were, generally speaking, a weekly affair. During the summer they may have been even more frequent.

Though the archive photo below predates my childhood reading career by a few years, and the children's coats (and the date stamped on on the back of the photo) suggest a colder season, the Children's room was in the basement of a Carnegie grant-funded library building. That basement remained pleasantly cool throughout the summer!

Children and books at the Missoula Public Library (1956)
Image source: Montana Memory Project (

As I recall, there were story hours once a week, and children could get library cards as soon as they could sign their namesin cursive not printed script. However, the one book per child checkout limit proved irksome.

Once I'd gotten hooked on reading, one of my parents had to check out extra books to get us through the week. It wasn't too long before they had to persuade the librarian to let me check out books from the upper-elementary school stacks.

The old library building now is home to the Missoula Art Museum (, which offers a wide-range of art experiences for children (

Missoula Art Museum (Google).PNG
Missoula Art Museum, 335 N. Pattee St., Missoula, MT
Image source: Corey McClure (May 2017), Google Maps (

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