Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Rumination: My mother was a reader. I can’t think about my childhood without there being a mental image in it of my mother sitting on the couch reading a book. I don’t remember what kind of books she read; for all I know they could have been romance novels. However, the only book I know she read – and that was because she recommended it to me - was Thomas Tryon’s book “The Twin.” If you knew my mother, you would hardly believe that this kind, loving, gentle woman would go for grisly horror stories, so I’m thinking that romance novels were not exactly her cup of tea. Strange that even after I grew up we never talked about what books we were reading.

Rumination: My sis and I did talk about books whenever we chatted on the phone or later communicated by e-mail. She was eclectic in her interests and the bulk of her reading material was way beyond my idea of interesting. However, we met at a few levels. It was she who put me on to “Esperanza’s Box of Saints” by Maria Amparo Escandon; I in turn provided her with “Walking the Bible” by Bruce Feiler – so we did have some common meeting places over books.

Rumination: Unlike my little granddaughter above who is shown reading to her pre-school friends, when I was a kid reading was not taught in school until first grade – when we were handed the ubiquitous “Dick and Jane” readers. Mother read to us all the time, and our library habits were solidified while we were still of a pre-school age. (No pre-schools at that time, either). We were not expected to know how to read any earlier, and my folks made no push in that direction, though now that I have seen my own little granddaughters reading and comprehending what they read at age 4, I see that my sis and I certainly could have learned. But it was enough to have mother read to us – not only stories but poetry. My father, whose education ended in the eighth grade, limited his reading to newspapers, but every Sunday he called my sis and me to sit down beside him while he read the comics to us. We called them funny papers, not comics. For some strange reason my sis and I especially remember “Moon Mullins” – so go figure that one out!

Rumination: We walked to and from school each day, except in inclement weather, when our dad took us. We lived in the city, and I’d guess our school was probably a mile east of where we lived. Our walk was along fairly busy 10th street, and both sis and I mostly read while we walked, the book in one hand and the little metal lunch pails in the other. The other day I was using Google Earth to find an apartment on 10th street that I used to live in as a newly-wed when I came upon a startling sight: a Church on the corner of 10th and Gladys and a telephone pole on the sidewalk in front of it, the very pole that I walked into and smacked my head when I was in the 4th grade. (See photo below) I was very engrossed in the book and just walked full bore into that pole, raising a bump on my forehead that shortly caused my teacher to send me to the nurse’s office. To find that church and that pole via Google Earth still in place gave me a good laugh. That jolt certainly imprinted itself in my mind!

Rumination: In the 1980s when I started into genealogy I began going to flea markets looking for items from my childhood. What started it was seeing some Storybook Dolls on sale in an antique shop for beaucoup bucks – and thinking back to the big Storybook Doll collection I had as a child. The dolls were long gone by the time I decided to do the big lady’s version of “trash digging” (another delight that my sister and I shared as little kids) and scope out the flea markets. I never found much, but amazingly in a single year I found two copies of the childhood book that was our favorite: “Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Camel With the Rumpled Knees.” I sent one copy to my sis, and later we agreed that it was hard to figure out why we were so enamored of the book as little kids. As grownups we didn’t feel that way about any of R. L. Stevenson’s poetry in “A Child’s Garden of Verses” but we admitted to a little disappointment that our favorite book hadn’t stood up as well as we remembered it.

Rumination: I am surprised that although my own kids had the same pattern (of a reading mother) that I had, only one of them turned out to be what I would call a “reader.” They all read, of course, but don’t find reading books to be the imperative that I have always felt. My son and I began reading each other’s library books probably about the time he went into 8th grade. We’d get books from the library and after we had read our own choices, we’d start in on each other’s books. Now e-mails fly back and forth as we exchange book reviews.

Why all this today? Ruminations don’t need reasons for their existence, so there is really no point to this at all -- other than to say that if you are a “reader” you will understand. And likely will have some ruminations of your own.


Olga said...

My mother was not a great reader beyond the NY Times. My father read Zane Grey westerns and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines. I have always read everything I could get my hands on and the same with my sister (who became a librarian), but my two brothers seldom read for the love of reading. My husband is an avid reader as are my children and grand children. Interestingly, both my children (read to from infancy) started writing before they started reading.

marciamayo said...

I really enjoyed your ruminations and especially loved your telephone pole picture. What a memory!

Stacey said...

grandma....loved the stories. I used to read and walk too. My mom and dad both read and in high school, I remember reading their books when they were done with them and they we always astonished with how quickly I could finish them. I often will sit and read, rather than turn on the tv. My sister on the other hand doesn't read books much. Joanthan LOVES to read as much as I do. :o) I hope that we are able to pass on this love to our child espeically now a days with all the technology out there. Reading seems to be one of those enjoyable ways to keep your mind active. :o)