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Times archive -- the gift that keeps on giving

March 18, 2010 |  6:09 pm

Melissa Henderson, a children’s librarian at the Glencoe Public Library in Illinois, wrote to Times Library Director Cary Schneider this week, looking for help in obtaining a Times article from 1999:

I lead a book group for kids and parents, and I am hoping to put my hands on an article from February 2, 1999. The book, “Any Small Goodness” by Tony Johnston, has chapter called The Coach that leads with the epigraph: “If you find yourself on the Mountain, either you've always lived here, or you've wandered badly...” -- L.A. Times, February 2, 1999.

AnySmallGoodness The excerpt is from a Column One article by Times staff writer Julie Cart about former Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s work with young basketball players on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona:

The land rises sharply. Baldy Peak, at 11,590 feet, presides over lush forests of ponderosa pine and deep red rock valleys cut by snow-fed rivers. Covering 1.5 million acres near the New Mexico border, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is as beautiful as it is empty.

"No one comes through here, not really," said Kyle Goklish, who attends Alchesay High School, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The observation is true. If you find yourself on the Mountain, either you've always lived here, or you've wandered badly off U.S. Highway 60.

The chapter in Johnston’s book, which is targeted at 9- to 12-year-olds, is a fictionalized account of Abdul-Jabbar’s efforts, Henderson said. Johnston adapted the tale to an unnamed basketball star at a primarily Latino school in Los Angeles.

Henderson wanted to use the article to explain to students in the book group how story ideas and elements could be plucked from real life.

Cart, who won a Pulitzer Prize last year for explanatory reporting, was unaware that her Column One had been excerpted in the book. But she was happy to hear that it was being shared, 11 years later, with young readers, many of whom probably were not born when the article was published.

Much of The Times’ archive from the last 20 years has been made available online, Schneider said, and is accessible for free by searching through Google. Story reprints and commemorative pages are also available through latimes.com.

--Deirdre Edgar

Twitter: @LATreadersrep

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