Georgia Douglas Johnson
I was just thinking about an old neighbor I had talked to at Dad's funeral. He was the oldest of five kids, from the next farm up around the corner. We began to talk about our mothers and I asked him if he knew what an incredible influence his mother had been on Mom . . and us six kids . . . and my two kids , , , and my three grandkids plus numerous other members of my family. I told him what she had done for four generations, without even knowing what her generous heart had created.
When Mother and Dad were still quite young, with two and soon after, three little girls (Karen, Sandy, Judy), they lived on a farm near Dad's current farm. Dad would go off to work in Cedar Rapids, and Mother stayed home. But staying home was not all that interesting. There was no TV, no radio, no car to get into and go, and definitely no extra money. Since they lived way out in the country, there wasn't any place Mother could even walk to, and even if there had been, with three little tots to drag along, this was pretty much an impossibility.
But just down the road, lived Nancy Neustel and her little brood - Frank (Butch), Billy and Linda (Bubbles). Later there would be Betty (Buttons) and David (Buster). Nancy had a love of reading and had lots of books and even magazine subscriptions! She was constantly lending Mother something to read, and that, my friends, is what saved a young woman's sanity who lived way out in the boonies. Mother only had a tenth grade education, but she began to read about everything. She educated herself in so many ways, and at the same time, traveled the world and saw so many interesting, new things, even though she never left her own little house. As we got older, we were encouraged to read a lot. Every two weeks, the folks would drive us to the Cedar Rapids library. At that time, each person was allowed to check out a limit of six books. Four little girls always checked out their full quota. After two weeks, back we would go back and get a fresh supply of reading materials.
Mother's answer for the usual whines from us kids went like this: (us) "I'm hungry!" (her) "Get a butter sandwich!"
(us) "I'm bored!" (her) "Get a book and READ!"
I found that reading to my two kids from the time they were very tiny, created a love of reading. Both Dan and Jenna read from an early age. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, with a kid on either side of me. I was helping 5 1/2 year-old Dan read a children's book. When he happened to stumble over a word, 3 1/2 year-old Jenna took the book out of my hands and began to read. I remember getting the tape recorder and getting it down on tape. The book was "Cinderella", and it was amazing to hear her correctly pronounce "Anastasia" as one of the ugly step-sisters.
Then there comes the next generation. Granddaughter Cate read very early on, and still devours books like crazy. Abby always has her nose stuck in a book, and recently was tested at reading college level, when she is only going into the sixth grade. A few years back, I took her shopping for her birthday. We went to Barnes and Noble and she picked out a Tween-type science fiction novel that was about 2 1/2 inches thick. She insisted that was the book she had been wanting, and by golly, she read it!
Alec was read to a lot as a tiny guy, and he formed a love for letters quite early on. He would play with those magnetic letters all the time, and would arrange them on a table (or refrigerator) and spell out the alphabet and then later, all kinds of words. We would find him with one of his books, like Sponge Bob, reading it and laughing out loud. What a rush that was to know he could read, understand, and enjoy the written word.
On another note about reading material. When clearing out Dad's house recently, we found a large stack of unread magazines. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous magazine salesperson must have called Dad and got his credit card number, and stuck him with several subscriptions. I feel that it was a set-up deal, because of the types of magazines that were sent to him - all subscriptions with expensive prices, for multiple years, and stuff he would have never dreamed of ordering such as:
US Magazine (a weekly), Rolling Stone, Forbes, Playboy, etc.
Just a heads up that if you have an elderly parent, keep an eye on little things like that. It can be so easy for someone to take advantage of some of our oldsters (pay attention, Dan and Jenna, your parents are rapidly hitting the "oldster" category!)
Since I always liked to read, I tried my hand at writing as a kid. My first series of books were about Suzy the Do-Bee, who was a little girl bumble-bee that was always doing things to be nice to others. I wish I could find some of that old material. It would be a hoot to read now. :)
So remember, if you get bored just GET A BOOK AND READ! - and while you're at it, fix yourself a butter sandwich.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL