"Local Personalities"

Judy Waters, Librarian

by Maggie Van Ostrand

Books are more than what they make a movie out of for television. They are friends, teachers, they stir the imagination and, as someone called "Anonymous" once said, "Book lovers never go to bed alone."

In our area, the keeper of this precious legacy is Judy Waters, who has been librarian since the June 1982 opening of the Frazier Park Branch of the Kern County Library.

Originally from Hartford City, Indiana, Judy moved to California in 1966, and to Frazier Park in 1978. For 10 years, she's been on the board of Mountain Memories, sponsor of Fiesta Days.

When asked how long she's been married, Judy replied, "I've known Harry since the day I was born. I used to hate him. Go ahead, put that in. Everybody knows that anyway. We've been married for 40 years, but he's wonderful now. He's my best friend, and I'm his."

They have a total of 8 children, all living in Southern California, 10 grandchildren, and are "aiming for 13."

One of Judy's many hobbies, all of which receive Harry's enthusiastic support, is cooking. Her most requested recipe? "Mountain Meatloaf. Everybody asks for that one. Meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top and gravy on top of that. Brown in the oven. I got the recipe from an old soup can years ago. People have always loved it."

Judy also collects stuffed teddy bears. "It must be hereditary," she says, "since my granddaughters now collect them, too. We like the cuddly ones."

One of Judy's favorite cuddly places is "Build A Bear Workshop," an international chain of Teddy Bear-building facilities (toll free number 1-877-789-BEAR), the website for which advises: "you personally experience the joy of creating your very own teddy bear. You'll find a wide range of furry friends to choose from with a vast assortment of outfits and accessories to match any personality."

Judy enjoys choosing a bear, selecting it's gender, size, shape, and clothing, then having a machine stuff it. Some people put a little recording inside the bear with a personal message. One shy fellow built a bear with a "Will you marry me?" message put inside. The lady said yes. Who could refuse a teddy bear?

One of Judy's bears is named Shaq after the former Lakers' star. She's still mourning Mr. O'Neal's move to Miami Heat, since the Lakers are her favorite team and basketball's her favorite sport.

Judy is also an avid collector of coffee cups from around the world, and her favorite one, the one she told Harry to "grab that mug if there's ever a fire and run for it," is inscribed "Harry is my pal." That's the one she bargained down from $1,500 to $15.00 a few years back.

Where Judy's concerned, there must be something very special about the name Harry. During our interview in the library, a young mother inquired about "Harry Potter," and another asked if Judy had a copy of "Horrible Harry and the Green Slime."

Coffee cups, teddy bears and basketball aside, Judy's number one pastime is reading. Her current choice is, "In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.," though the book of which she's most fond is "Gone With The Wind."

At the library, best-seller "The DaVinci Code" is currently the most popular choice of readers, and it may still be by the time the new library goes up across the street from the park. That happy event is in the foreseeable future, and will be built with funds from a state bond approved by voters.

"70 million books in America's libraries," said author Tom Masson, "but the one you want to read is always out." Not if Judy Waters has anything to say about it.

Reprinted by permisson of Maggie Van Ostrand

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