BCPL staff share their Thanksgiving traditions

(Kelsey Shackelford is the Community Events Liaison at the Main Library.)

Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season, though according to most retail stores, we’ve been in the throes of the holidays since September. Thanksgiving often gets lost in the shuffle between Halloween and all of the winter holidays, but many people have certain traditions that are paramount to the fourth Thursday in November. Several members of our staff have traditions unique to their celebration of Thanksgiving.

Our Local History department has a couple of unique traditions in their families. Local History Associate Kelly Bilz’s family, has the tradition of not eating a full Thanksgiving meal until Friday. On the actual holiday, they order pizza and then go see a movie as a family. This year they are thinking about seeing Green Book. Hilary Delaney, Local History Public Associate, has an aunt that not only hosts the family celebration, but makes a butter sculpture each year. Last year, she made this turkey pictured below. Hilary can’t wait to see what she comes up with this year!

One of the fun things about Thanksgiving is that it allows for all types of different foods. Kim Johnson, Circulation Assistant, comes from a German family. They always eat Rotkohl (red cabbage) as a side dish. Rotkohl is sweetened with apple and it has a little bit of bacon in it. Kim isn’t a cabbage fan but loves this dish. They added green bean casserole to the menu for her husband later because that’s what he grew up with. Kim’s family also serves dinner around the Detroit Lions game, as she is from that area. Youth Services Community Events Liaison Micha O’Connor’s grandmother always makes oyster casserole. She couldn’t tell you how it tastes – only her uncle and cousin will touch it!

The holiday season is all about family. Sisters Nadine Swinford, Circulation Assistant, and Chelsea Swinford-Johantges, Youth Services Associate, celebrated Thanksgiving as kids by fasting until dinner so they could eat as much as possible and still have room for dessert. There are several vegetarians in their family, so they have two different meals out. Some of the dishes they have made over the years include stuffed tofu “turkey”,  seitan rouladeslentil balls, and veggie sushi (ordered in from Miyoshi). There are some dishes that make it to the table every year without fail: roast butternut squashmashed potatoes, and, of course, plenty of desserts. Chelsea’s favorite dessert to make is cranberry fluff.  For the last few years, Nadine and her mom have been making the majority of the desserts on Thanksgiving morning. Nadine says “even if no one is watching it, we always turn the Thanksgiving parade on while we bake. It doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without it, which is kind of odd, since we normally use it as background noise.” This year Nadine is attempting a pumpkin pie with no eggs and Chelsea is making balsamic tempeh.

Family traditions come in all shapes and sizes outside of food. Youth Services Associate Emily Sexton’s family has an annual talent show. Family members come up with singing acts and try to win votes for a cash prize. She says “While we are not a vocally gifted family by any means (and I say that with love), we do know how to put on a good show! Past years have included my aunt as Elton John, my cousin as Michael Jackson (complete with kiddo zombies), and an ‘excellent’ winning skit by my cousin and myself of Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World. We started with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen and wrapped it up with ‘Foxy Lady’ by Jimi Hendrix.”

Food sort of makes Public Service Associate Ed McLaughlin’s Thanksgiving unique every year. When Ed married his wife, she had a nine year old son. Ed made their “first turkey dinner with all the fixings.” According to Ed, “The boy thought I was too serious. So during dinner with his mother teasing me, I picked up a deviled egg and tossed it at her. It hit her glasses- a perfect shot that stuck to the lens and stayed on a few seconds before sliding off into her lap. I thought ‘I am a dead man.’ As she started choking up, I thought she was crying, but she wasn’t. She laughed so hard her son started to laugh and then the potatoes hit me.” He is now 33 and they have thrown a traditional retaliatory egg at Ed every year since.

Thanksgiving is a special time of year. We have downtime to spend with loved ones, watch sports or our favorite movies, and of course, eat great food. It’s a pleasant transition into what can sometimes be a hectic time of year for many people. We hope you have time to enjoy the holiday and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Kelsey Shackelford is the Community Events Liaison at the Main Library.


Life Through a Rose Colored Lens

(Becky Kempf is the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator at Boone County Public Library.)

Sibling models

I grew up as a child model – for my father. I don’t have any modeling talent, but I must have been in thousands of his photos. I remember being mortified as a teenager at a family reunion when my father pulled out his slides and projector and proceeded to bore everyone for at least an hour with photos of my childhood. My sister and brother were forced to model, too! Here is a picture of the three of us. Not only did my father take these pictures, he developed them in his own darkroom and built the frame.


My granddaughter, Sylvie


I bring up my father’s photography hobby because it’s obvious that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – I bribed my own children to model for me and now I expect my grandchildren to smile for the camera, too. My oldest grandchild, Sylvie, is ten and I introduced her to photography with a Little Tykes camera when she was two. Here she is today, using one of my cameras.


Daisy spent three days posing!

My poor dogs have been pulled into this madness, as well. My little dog, Daisy, had to endure three photo shoots on three different days for me to get this picture of her and my books! And you can imagine how much Daisy and Maggie enjoyed being told to “stay” while standing in a flower pot!



Maggie and Daisy


My father gave me a Kodak Pony camera when I was in high school and taught me how to use a darkroom. He claimed a bathroom in our house as his darkroom and filled it with strategically placed equipment and an enlarger. He even rigged a red light bulb outside the door that would light up when he was using the bathroom, I mean darkroom. Actually, the bathroom was never used in the traditional way, you would have had to move the table with the heavy enlarger off of the toilet! (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about – google it! Before digital cameras were invented, creating photos was a long involved messy business in the dark with trays of water and nasty, smelly chemicals.)

Back to high school – did I mention that I was a military brat? My dad was a Colonel in the Air Force and we traveled a lot. I attended two high schools – I went to Goose High School in Labrador (Canada) for 9th and 10th grades and then my dad was transferred to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and I graduated from Beavercreek High School in 1976. I worked on the school newspaper and yearbook while in high school and wrote articles, roamed the halls taking pictures and did layouts for the yearbook pages.

I graduated from Wright State University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. I majored in physical geography (basically meteorology) and minored in communication. I took all of the public speaking, writing, journalism and television broadcasting classes I could get. My plan at that time was to be a weather girl, but I fell in love, got married and worked for awhile for my father’s side business, Deerbrook Industries. My dad built furniture and I drew the plans and wrote the instructions so others could make the furniture themselves. We sold the plans through a little mail order catalog.

My four children – yep, I still photograph them and tell them how I want them to pose

Long story, short, I had four children and I was a stay-at-home mom for the first three. I went to work for Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana when the youngest of the three started school. I used my photography, editing, writing and communication skills as a Membership Development Specialist and handled PR and recruitment for a four-county area as well as the cookie sale, the newsletter and even some programming and training.

A picture of me from my recent photography trip to Alaska.

Fast forward…after the birth of my fourth child and two jobs later, I saw the posting in the Enquirer for a Public Relations Coordinator at Boone County Public Library and I said, “I’m going to get that job!” I took a vacation day and worked all day on my resume, cover letter and portfolio of work, dropped the packet off at the Scheben Branch, and voila – I got the job and here I am today. I’ve been with BCPL for 15 years as of August 6.



If you’d asked me fifteen years ago what my favorite thing about the library was, I’d have said books. I’ve been a power reader ever since I read my first word and I still love reading as much as I ever did, but now I appreciate the library for the way it brings the community together. Because we depend so much on texting and social media to communicate today, we have lost some of the face-to-face communication we used to have. The Library is a place where you can interact with your friends, neighbors, and people in the community you’ve never met before, while attending programs, using meeting rooms, browsing the stacks, eating in the cafe or even just reading in a corner. The library is one of the few places you can go where you don’t need money in your wallet. You can come here for free entertainment and free education, no matter your age, your status in life, your race. Everyone is welcome at the library and I’m proud to work here and know that all of us together have enhanced people’s lives and made a difference in our community.

You can view more of my photography at rosecoloredlensphotography.com

Becky Kempf – Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator