When you think of Spencer Iowa, what normally comes to mind is the Clay County Fair; the biggest county fair in the United States. But what may surpass that is Dewey the Cat. When you enter Spencer and see the water towers, they have a colored paw on both of them. It is actually supposed to represent the Spencer tigers, the high school team. But many think of Dewey the Library cat when they see it.
On a cold January night in 1988, someone dropped a kitten in the Spencer Library’s drop box. Was it a prank, or just the easiest way of getting rid of a cat that they just didn’t want anymore? I don’t think we will ever find the answer to that question.
Vicki Myron, found the kitten in the drop-box and the animal was filthy, cold and very malnourished. When their eyes met, she became the kittens new owner. Vicki has been a full time librarian there for six months. The economy at the time was not doing so well, and Vicki was trying to make ends meet as a full time employee and going to school trying to earn her masters. When Vicki and the rest of the staff wanted to make the library more homey, they got approval from the Board of Trustees to let Dewey live there. The name Dewey simply came from the Dewey decimal system.
From word of mouth in the Spencer area, many found out why and how Dewey became the towns library cat. People would come into the library just to bare witness to the popular feline. The libraries yearly visitor rate jumped from 60,000 to 100,000. http://www.deweyreadmorebooks.com/deweynews.php?idnews=8
I remember watching the CBS Sunday Morning News show on television, and people as far away as New York would donate money to the library for Dewey’s cat food. News crews came from all over the nation to do stories on Dewey, as far away as Japan. Vicki wrote a book titled simply, “Dewey”and it went number one on the New York Times best seller list. The book also concentrated on living in small town USA.
Dewey died in November 29, 2006 due to a large stomach tumor, but his spirit will live on in a big way. Now there is talk about…a movie? At first there were rumors generating that it would eventually take place, but it appears to be a fact. From the website http://www.deweyreadmorebooks.com, they claim that the makers of the film tried to keep that fact quiet; at least for the time being, but someone let the cat out of the bag. (So to speak.) New Line Cinema will pick it up and Pamela Gray will write the screenplay. Although the location has not yet been determined, or any contracts signed; it is most likely that Meryl Streep will play the lead role. Pamela Gray wrote Music of the Heart where Streep also starred. The movie title will be “Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat that Touched the World.”
Dewey (2008) Dewey in the News. Retrieved June 29, 2011 from website http://www.deweyreadmorebooks.com/deweynews.php?idnews=8