Where I’m From

Since I was a child, I always wondered about the saying, “You can’t go home again.” In my case, being born across the sea, I thought it explained perfectly the remoteness of the possibility of my return visit. Luckily, my Fulbright experience in Nottingham brought me within two and a half hours (by car) to my birthplace in the U.K. That good fortune, combined with my husband’s loving gift of renting a car and driving us to England’s eastern coast, made a lifelong yearning come true.

Although Bentwaters Air Force Base was closed in 1993, the area is now used as an industrial park and houses a Cold War museum. My father’s first assignment in the Air Force took him and my mother far from their West Virginia roots. They settled in a tiny town of Bromeswell, which is now has over 300 residents. Here’s the story of my day at “home”…

First, I booked a night in a thatched-roof cottage B&B. We drove in the night down two-lane roads that were big enough for one car! Jim should receive an award for navigating the rental (steering wheel on the right side), driving on the left side of the road, AND while avoiding the hedgerows. And pheasants. And oncoming vehicles. It didn’t help that the B&B doesn’t have a house number, so it can’t be pinpointed on GPS. We knew the place was down the road from the White Horse pub. Unfortunately, we didn’t know there was a White Horse Inn in the neighboring village. Needless to say, we were lost. Fortunately, the B&B host got us heading in the right direction! Here are some photos of the cottage.


After a bite at the pub, where we were welcomed by local families gathering for dinner and a pint before Christmas, Jim rested up for even more driving down impossibly thin and curvy lanes. The next morning was my big day!

We first drove to Ipswich, the town where my mother and father took me shopping in my pram. The town was a Roman settlement and has been “continuously occupied since the Saxon period”, making it the oldest town in England. We visited the art gallery, the historical museum, and walked along High Street and the shopping district. It was wonderful to hear the street musicians playing carols as we strolled along admiring the old architecture.

Next we drove into the countryside and found Bromeswell. img_0179It only has a couple of streets, so I used the town’s church of St. Edmond as my GPS beacon. Good fortune was with us, as we met a lovely woman walking to the church for one last check before the Christmas Eve service. I told her of my mission to see my past and she brought us inside the sanctuary. It was a beautiful old chapel, and you could see the love in the handmade holly and ivy decorations. She had me sign the guestbook, noting my parents’ names, so she could see if any of the older parishioners remembered them. I was given the gift of a sketch of the church for my mother, along with its history. Jim and I made a donation, thanked her profusely for making our trip so meaningful, and then strolled down the lanes to take photos of the homes to share back in the States.

The last leg of the journey was to the area where Bentwaters AFB had been located, which is now a gated industrial park. When Jim and I explained to the security guard about how my father had once worked on the base and it was also the site of my birthplace, he let us drive up next to the flight line and to the control tower, with the promise we wouldn’t go into any of the buildings. Although the Cold War museum was closed for the winter, I was thrilled to get so close to where my father had worked!

Thanks to the kindness of strangers and the intrepid driving of my husband, I was able to go home again. The day was filled with unexpected surprises, such as seeing the inside of the church and receiving the gift of the sketching, along with taking a drive down narrow lanes to discover the place where it all started for me at a former AFB in England.


All Kids Need Books!

An enormous THANK YOU to James Patterson and Scholastic Books on behalf of my students at J.D. Clement Early College High School. Since 2015, Patterson has donated $3.5 million of his own money to help underfunded school libraries nationwide!

            Dear Marjorie Light,
            On behalf of Scholastic Reading Club and James Patterson, thank you for the application                       you submitted on behalf of J.D. Clement Early College High School’s library.

           This year we received thousands of applications in response to James Patterson’s                                    $1.75 Million Pledge to School Libraries! The quality of this year’s applications speaks                            highly of the teachers, parents, and administrators working hard to instill a love of books                    and reading in students across this country. 

It is our pleasure to inform you that your school library has received a…grant. Congratulations!


Here are some of the students who inspire the teachers, parents, and administrators at J.D. Clement Early College High School.file-dec-02-8-35-49-pm




On the left are many of the members of the Library Club after our school won a 3-D printer (beating out schools with thousands of students!) in a Durham Public Libraries summer reading contest. They are passionate about books and love to encourage each other’s reading lives.

If you are interested, here’s an article for the Nerdy Book Club about how the school didn’t have a library, so I decided to build one and ALL of the wonderful people who helped make our dream of having books students could check out a reality. (My room is pictured left, and below.)

One of the main component of the $10,000 grant is funding to buy some seating for the students, a system for checking out books (currently using a cardboard box covered with construction paper), and more shelves to BUY. MORE. BOOKS! The library club is going to increase these sections: Classic Books, our sparse Non-Fiction, and World Literature (on the small bookcase above). In addition, they want to add some current YA literature.

Since I’m abroad in England as a U.S. Fulbright Distinguished teacher, I wasn’t going to have the opportunity to share my good news with the students back in North Carolina. My former ELA colleague and amazing friend, Alice Dominguez, arranged for me to Skype with the Library Club. So after visiting a school in the UK for my research, the IT dept put me in a conference room with a laptop and I got to break the incredible news to my lovely students. They beamed, clapped, and cheered. It was merriment all around! I can’t thank James Patterson and Scholastic Books for such an amazing gift. The little lending library in a classroom – one with no budget – one built from gifts, begging, and cajoling – now has some proper funding to make the space more inviting, functional, and enticing to readers of all genres. Libraries make a difference in students’ lives. Thank you, again, to James Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club for making a difference. ♥