Bond of Books

April 29, 2024 |
by: Holly Dick

Long-time LAMP volunteer reader Judy Kimblin and I formed a bond through books during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judy has been reading aloud to people with visual impairments for as long as I have known her. I met her when we both volunteered for the Radio Information Service (RIS). She read daily newspapers and environmental articles from various publications. When RIS closed (perhaps 25 years ago), Judy began volunteering in the LAMP Recording Studio as a narrator. Her lovely British accent and impeccable diction have pleased the ears of its patrons since then. She has narrated mainly books of local authorship and interest and those about people dealing with blindness, plus an occasional volume of her beloved poetry.
Over the years, Judy often stopped in to see me after narrating books in the recording studio at nearby LAMP. During these visits, she read me many books, especially those by British authors, about animal behavior, environmental subjects, and much wonderful poetry. I often asked her to read me articles from local periodicals that I could not access in recorded format.

Our COVID reading sessions evolved naturally from these experiences. Immediately after the COVID close-down, she suggested reading to me over the phone. Of course, I readily agreed to this. Initial sessions every few days quickly grew into daily ones every weekday. Judy has an unusually strong reading voice. She always read for a minimum of an hour and often for almost two hours. The sound of her voice traversed the void of pandemic isolation on warm waves of friendship.
Judy sat in a sunny second-floor window to read to me through her cell phone, which she propped up at an angle where I could listen to her, and she could hear my frequent reactions and comments. This was important because of her substantial hearing loss, which is corrected by dual hearing aids.
Over these two years, we read so many books that neither of us could remember them all when we tried after the end of the pandemic isolation period. Many of them were from her extensive library in Thornburg. Even though she had read most of them, she wanted to share them with me. We are still recommending books to each other in almost every conversation we have.
The first book she read to me was by Bill Malden, the famous cartoonist during World War II and the post-war period. The authors ranged from Winston Churchill to Fred Rogers to Studs Terkel. Subjects ranged from a history of the Atlantic Ocean by Simon Winchester to the ecology of an author’s backyard to the myriad of wildlife observed in a square foot of a Tennessee national park. Short stories about life in the early steel mill days of Pittsburgh and frequent interjections of poetry were among the readings.
“We Were There,” the remote recollections of World War II fellow CMU Osher members, “The Plague” by Albert Camus, “Pale Horse, Pale Rider” by Catherine Ann Porter, and “About Time” by David Rooney were certainly pertinent to the time. They augmented the books on that topic I had read since 2020. They all reflected our wide-ranging common interests.
Of all the gifts Judy has given me—the annual Christmas rum balls, the homemade marmalade, the plants from her garden and the fresh vegetables from her local farmers’ market, the books she has read to and shared with me are the most valuable. As she recovers from a recent surgery, I thank her for the bond of books that has strengthened our relationship.

Books mentioned by Holly available at LAMP by author:
Written by Winston Churchill: “The Crisis” DB 24555, “Coniston” DB 13350, “The Crossing” DB 19147, “The Age of Revolution” DB 26350, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” DB 16337, “Closing the Ring” DB 23703, “The Gathering Storm” DB 23699 “The Grand Alliance” DB 23701, “The Great Democracies” DB 26351, “The Great Republic: A History of America” DB 50002, “The Hinge of Fate” DB 23702, “The New World” DB 26349, “The River War” DB 46843
Written by Fred Rogers: “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers” DBC 16134, “The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember” DB 57115, “Dear Mister Rogers” DB 45482, “Going to the Hospital” DB 27708, “Making Friends” BR 07148, DB 27341, “Moving” DB 29615, “When a Pet Dies” BR 07142
Written by Studs Terkel: “Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression” DB 24995, “Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times” BR 15317, DB 57545, “American Dreams, Lost and Found” DB 15789, “And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey” BR 16318, “Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It” DB 41899, “Giants of Jazz” DB 60829, “The Good War: An Oral History of World War II” DB 21205, “The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream” DB 28602
By Title:
• “Atlantic” by Simon Winchester DB 72681
• “We Were There: Memories of World War II in Our Own Words / edited by Alan Cope DBC 01848
• “The Plague” by Albert Camus DB 32531
• “Pale Horse, Pale Rider: Three Short Novels” by Katherine Anne Porter DB 65339
• “About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks” by David Rooney DB 106780