Closing Libraries

Local historian Dory DeAngelo once said that every time an old person passes away, a library closes. Truer words were probably never spoken. Recently, Historic Northeast has had two such libraries close, taking with them a treasure trove of neighborhood and regional history.

Rita Nell-Patejdl lived her entire life centered around one house in the 100 block of N. Bales. She passed away in March of this year after a life of 80+ years in Northeast. As one of the founders of the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association in 1986, Rita took a front-line role in the development of the strong neighborhood association movement borne in the mid 1980s. It was largely through her hard work that the walking trail adjacent to Gladstone Boulevard was built, something enjoyed by scores of Northeast residents almost 30 years after its construction. Rita was often consulted by local Garment District Historians due to her work for the iconic Nell Donnelly at the women’s clothing company Nelly Don. She was often brash and brusk, but Rita was a history library, with much of that knowledge relating directly back to her beloved Northeast and the Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood she helped charter. This Newsdog will miss her signature sign off on voice messages she left: “Over and out.”

Another library that sadly closed this week was local historian and author Harold Dellinger. Harold was a long time Lykins resident who actually wrote his neighborhood’s history back in the late 1990s. Harold was also a Civil War history expert who wrote and edited books about Billy the Kid, Jesse James and the notorious William Clarke Quantrill, a Missouri guerrilla who terrorized the Missouri-Kansas border during the Civil War. This Newsdog was privileged to receive some of Harold’s vast cache of historic documents, including a variety of Kansas City and Independence, Missouri postcards, a dance program from the dedication of the original Convention Hall in 1899 and a rare biography of Sarah Walter Chandler-Coates, the wife of Kansas City pioneer Kersey Coates. To the local history community, Harold’s expertise set many a record straight on local historical subjects.

Over the weekend, the Dog had the opportunity to sit down and talk with another library, rich with history and full of fun stories from Kansas City’s past. We’ll be putting together an oral history session with 89-year-old Marie McDaniel, a proud member of the Greatest Generation. The opportunity to sit down with a “library” doesn’t avail itself often. This history-minded pooch would suggest that when it does, block off the time necessary to “read” that book, take note of the history therein, and record it for the benefit of future generations.

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