Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Silver Lake, KS

It was 2pm on Tuesday, July 1st when our small-town Silver Lake Library was visited by an older black lady. It was as if she came from nowhere. She had with her a plain, black rolling suitcase and a smaller black tote bag. Two members of the library staff watched her walk quietly to a work table in our main library area. She proceeded to unpack some of her belongings, which included lotion, body spray, numerous paperwork, business cards, and store fliers (in plastic bags). She then removed her 'wig' and set it beside her. As the afternoon progressed, she would politely ask for 3 sheets of copy paper, then a black ink pen, tape, scissors, a red ink pen, and white out, all the while rearranging her items; writing, and lotioning her arm that had no cast. The other was ensconced in a cast to below her elbow. She seemed very nice and polite and was calm throughout the afternoon.

I was working in another room in the library when a very loud belch suddenly reverberated throughout the whole building! I heard her apologize to the staff, who were in the same room as her. She seemed to have shocked herself. A little while later, she stood up and began cleaning the floor with her own toilet paper and disinfectant spray. She again apologized profusely for 'leaking' on the floor. She sprayed about half of her disinfectant spray on the stain and the smell enveloped the library. I asked if she needed any help, but she said, no, she would take care of it herself.

The time was nearing 4:30 and we were beginning to wonder what she was going to do. It was then that she asked to make some copies. I told her they would be 10 Cents a copy. She pulled $10 and some change from her pocket and asked that any extra copies she made would be a donation to her “cause”. She then asked for 125 copies of 3 separate pages - a total of 375 copies. In my state of mind, I didn’t realize the total cost of the copies should be $37.50! I allowed her to start copying and let the other staff prepare to close the library and go home. I glanced at some of the “writings” on the papers and couldn’t understand them, but what I did made me a little nervous. I saw “give the white church Hell back”, etc. It was just her and me in the library at this time. I also realized that she really had no way to get from Silver Lake to another place to stay for the night.

She would ask me if there were any churches in town or if I knew any pastors. I told her that the churches were probably closed by now and that the pastors had probably gone home. She also told me that she wanted to go to Holton, which is a very small town 30 miles north of Silver Lake. I told her that Holton wouldn’t have much in the way of lodging. I said that Topeka would have much more available. She said that she knew there was a University in Topeka that would have a library open there, because of summer school classes. I didn’t feel safe in bringing her to my home, so I called my husband and told him we had a “nice lady” at the library, who needed a ride to Topeka. He picked up our son and arrived to help in the next leg of our journey with this very interesting person. As we prepared to go outside, she proceeded to replace her “wig” on her head. Her hair was a very nice and close cut, so it baffled me that she would wear such an ugly, hot thing on her head. It had a plastic round piece on the top, with straight brown hair starting around that top and hanging down the sides. ( I realize now that it may be to keep the “microwave technology” from invading her thoughts) My husband and I knew she probably wouldn’t have supper, so we took her to Burger King on the way to the library. We tried to make small talk to draw her out but she just had short answers with no elaboration. We had a nice meal and then proceeded to take her to Washburn University to try to find their library. My youngest son was with us. She suggested that he go up to the door and check on the hours they were open. He came back and told us it was open until 9:00. She then gave us 3 of her original papers in a plastic protective sheet sealed with many layers of scotch tape. She told us her name was Marilyn Gibbs at that time and that she was a “Lobbyist to Stop Human Rights Abuse”. We said goodbye as she made her way to the library door. We wondered what we had just experienced!...and what Washburn University Library was about to experience!

We read through her papers to try and understand her “mission” but soon realized it was not possible. Much of it is only a slight variation on what has already been shown on this website. My husband suggested I ‘Google’ her to see if there was anything written about her. I tried…and came across this website. It’s amazing just how many people (from all over the world) have come in contact with Marilyn. We are praying she remains safe and that those who help her will do so in a kind and patient way.