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In her hometown of Ivoryton, Pat Muggleston is helping to ensure the 150-year history if the Ivoryton Library continues for another 150 years. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Pat Muggleston has heard a lot about Harry Potter. That is because her last name incorporates what wizards like Harry called people who did not possess magical powers: Muggles.
“People do mention it,” Pat says, and not infrequently. “All the time,” she adds, “but I like the books and movies.”
Pat still lives where she grew up, where she went to school, where she met her husband—all in Ivoryton. She was president of the Ivoryton Library Board of Trustees last year and this year she remains on the board. The library is celebrating its 150th anniversary for an entire year, starting this May.
The library was organized in 1871 and moved into its familiar building on Ivoryton Main Street in 1889. The very first library in the community, Pat points out, was a small collection of books in a corner of Sarah Cheney’s porch in Ivoryton. Cheney served as the first librarian from 1871 to 1889.
All that time, the library remained in her house until its move to its present quarters. Cheney herself was a member of one of the families that owned the Comstock, Cheney & Company, a leading 19th-century manufacturer of a variety of ivory goods from billiard balls to tooth picks.
Looking through the collection of historical photographs at the Ivoryton Library, Pat once found a picture of herself as a 1st-grade student at what was then the Ivoryton Elementary School. It once stood on the Ivoryton Green, but was torn down after students from all three villages began to attend the then-newly constructed Essex Elementary School built in l956.
Pat remembers that 1st grade class of 20 students; actually, it was a 1st grade with some 2nd graders.
“They never told us that though,” she recalls.
Pat figured out that there were two grades in one classroom the following year when she was in 2nd grade, and her brother, then in 3rd grade, was also in the same class.
Pat went to Lasell College in Massachusett, and finished her undergraduate work at Southern Connecticut State University before getting not only a master’s degree but 30 credits beyond her master’s at the University of Connecticut.
For 25 years she was an elementary school teacher in Madison specializing in language and reading. She also taught in Clinton and East Hartford and then at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford where she taught others how to teach writing.
Today she keeps up with some of the students she had early in her career electronically.
“I’m friends with some of the 5th graders I had in Madison on Facebook,” she says.
Retirement eight years ago has given Pat a chance she says to rediscover both friends and interests.
“You don’t really get to see a lot of people when you leave at 6 a.m. and get home at 6 p.m.,” she explains.
Pat ushers at the Ivoryton Playhouse once a month and serves as a docent at the Essex Historical Society’s Pratt House during the summer months. She occasionally delivers for Meals on Wheels from the Estuary Senior Council of Seniors where her daughter Laura Robins works as a nutritionist.
This summer she will add another activity: work at the YMCA’s Community Garden in Westbrook.
“It makes you feel better working for a good cause like that,” she explains.
She hopes her grandson Noah, a student a Valley Regional High School, who she says likes to garden, will work with her.
Pat and her husband Bob have two children and five grandchildren ranging in age from 9 to 21. Both her daughter Laurie and son, also named Bob, a magazine editor, live in Deep River.
As she has for some 25 years, Pat continues her association with PEO International, an organization that supports women’s education projects. She has interviewed doctoral candidates for scholarship grants.
“It’s fascinating to hear the kinds of things that they are working on,” she says.
A broken wrist kept Pat from some exercise classes recently, but now she is eager to get involved again, particularly with Pilates, which she enjoys. She and her husband would like to do more traveling, and she is especially eager for a trip back to France.
Looking forward to the plans underway for the Ivoryton Library’s 150th anniversary, Pat says that one of the goals in the upcoming year-long celebration is to make sure that the 150-year history of the library continues.
Both the Essex and Ivoryton libraries receive support from the town of Essex, but each, as an independent library, has to raise its own funds to supplement that town support.
“We want to create a legacy. We want to keep this library going for another 150 years,” she says. “We want to create an endowment so our grandchildren and great grandchildren can come here.”
For more information on the Ivoryton Library, visit www.ivorytonlibrary.org.
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