Just like in the movies, there really is a Dorothy from Kansas.
Our Dorothy is from Paola, Kansas.
Dorothy moved to Paola in the 1920s, when she was a little girl and she loved to read! Her love of reading was encouraged by her father, who would sit and read the newspaper out loud to her.
Growing up, she lived just down the way on Castle Street and would visit the Paola Free Library often. She would check out books, walk home, and sit under a little mulberry tree in her backyard to read. Whenever her mother wanted her to come in for lunch, she knew just where to look for Dorothy – sitting by the mulberry tree with her books.
While in elementary school, Dorothy had read all of the children’s books available in the entire library! The librarian told her she would have to wait to get older before she could check out books written for grown ups.
In the 1930s she graduation from Paola High School at the age of 16 and became a teacher for a one room schoolhouse in Drexel, Missouri.
The 1940s found Dorothy traveling through out the Midwest with Big Bands. She also worked on a secret research project involving rockets in New Mexico.
In the 1950s she moved to the Chicago area where she taught school until 1982.
Dorothy never forgot her mulberry tree and her time spent reading under its branches. She often told her children, and grandchildren, about the time she read all of the children’s books in the library.
Dorothy turned 100 years old in 2020, and her family wanted to find a way to honor her. They remembered her story about the library and reached out.
Dorothy’s Mulberry Tree Fund was created to give each child an opportunity to form their own “mulberry tree memories”, by purchasing books for the library’s collection and for our summer reading program. This fund also supports children’s programming and early childhood literacy initiatives.