When a book inspires you to learn the value is priceless. I often wonder where I would be had I never opened that first book.
In 1958 I lived on a long, straight as an arrow, dirt road. It was a hot dusty July day. Thunder clouds gathering in the distance. The family had stopped the field work to eat lunch and we were all sitting on the front porch.
I saw a car coming down the road trailing a cloud of dust in its wake. You couldn’t drive fast on the dirt road because of all the ruts and holes in the road. It seemed to take forever before the car slowed down and pulled into our driveway. The car was covered in dust and out came this gentleman in a Seersucker suit and a Panama hat. We all stared because that was Sunday dress to us. He asked me my name and asked if I liked to travel.
Well being six years old I told him that I didn’t talk to strangers and I traveled to my cousin’s house every day. He brought out these orange books called Childcraft books. They had the most amazing illustrations I had ever seen. My face lit up then dropped. Even at six, I knew we were poor and could never afford a book like that.
Daddy and the salesman walked down the road toward the tobacco barn and when the man came back his face was red and he was acting really happy. Even at six, I knew the barn was where daddy kept his lemonade which later in life I found out was really moonshine. The salesman left me the book and said I would be getting more monthly.
That night Daddy let me stay up late devouring the book from cover to cover. The book had stories, full-color illustrations, science, poetry and the books were made to make learning fun. Thanks to those books by the end of the first grade I was way ahead of my class in reading and growing in that skill daily. I read Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Aladdin, history, and more.
I would sit by the creek reading. In my mind, I traveled on great journeys, fought in great battles, went to the moon, and rode with notorious outlaws. I was hooked on learning and wanted more. I had a library card by first grade. By twelve I was reading Henry David Thoreau. By sixteen my quest for knowledge took me out of school and set me on my quest of learning. I spent five years on the road playing music.
I never lost my love for learning and knowledge. The most enlightening thing I became aware of is that learning requires engaged listening. While the books may inspire the urge to learn I have learned so much from practicing listening. Everyone you meet has a story and something that they can teach you. Everyone has a story to tell.
Point of View:
We should strive to learn something new every day. Knowledge is infinite and as long as we desire we can learn. Knowledge is awe-inspiring so as to keep us humble. Inspire yourself to learn something new every day then inspire others by sharing. Listen to others with an open heart and open mind and together you can do amazing things.
These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance. I hope they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind, lest they be forgotten.