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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016


Friday, November 16, 2012

Our home town was too small to have its own library. When we helped the Sisters clean up the school rooms before summer vacation, they would allow us to take a few books home to read over the summer. One summer I read and reread A Lantern in Her Hand, the story of a girl born into the Nebraska territory. It told the story of her childhood on the prairie and eventually her life as a wife and mother struggling with the work and worries that faced the ladies of that era. I reread the volume recently for old-time sake. It wasn't as wonderful as I had thought it was the summer I spent with it as a companion.

I have always loved to read. My sister and I would take our books along upstairs when we were supposed to go to bed. We took a flashlight along and read under the covers until Mother caught us. Then she made us leave our books where she could see them before we went to bed. I remember leaving them on the landing step - a couple of steps up there was a large step changing the direction of the stairs. Then at least if I woke up early I could go down and get it and read until called for breakfast.

We did not go to the library in either of the neighboring towns and I never asked why because I thought I knew the reason. I thought it was because the library was only for the town kids and if country kids wanted books they had to pay for them. That was probably not accurate, but that's what I thought. It amazes me as I look back at how many things I wanted to know but was reluctant to ask about. I have changed a lot since then.

There was no shortage of reading material in our home in spite of never visiting the library. Mom subscribed to many magazines and newspapers. The Cappers Weekly and Our Sunday Visitor were favorite weekly papers. The first time I was ever paid for anything I wrote was when Cappers sent me one dollar for a short anecdote I wrote about Easter at our house.

The magazines came once a month. The Saturday Evening Post had delightful cartoons scattered throughout its pages. Life magazine was loaded with current event stories and prize-winning photographs. McCalls, Good Housekeeping and Ladies' Home Journal showed current fashions and fads and had nice short stories. The Reader's Digest was then and remains a favorite with me.

I devoured movie magazines when visiting friends. Mom didn't want us spending our money on them. They were trash with a capital T. My brothers wanted comic books featuring Superman but Mom didn't like them either. My cousins had stacks of comic books in an upstairs playroom. Mom may have thought we were playing up there, but we were usually flopped on the floor reading from the comic books scattered around us. It was a treat I enjoyed to the utmost.

Cousin Mary Lou had, no doubt, already read all the comics in which we were burying our noses. I would rather sit there all afternoon enjoying the antics of Archie and his friends than play house or school which was what she wanted to do. It was her house -- so she got to be the mom or the teacher -- which made the lure of the comic book reading that much more enticing.

As an adult I have a computer offering many ways to do research and many articles and essays to read on line but I continue to make very good use of our local library. I have not yet begun reading novels printed on a screen on a little tablet I can carry with me. They say there can be hundreds of books in one tablet and that tickles my interest a tiny bit but so far I have not had any real longing to own one. It might even prove to be intimidating to have so many from which to choose.

At this point I like holding a book in my hand and flipping pages and being stuck with reading it all the way through because I don't have another -or several hundred more - readily available.

I do go modern for one thing. I like books on tape or on discs. I take no long trips without a couple of books I can listen to during our travels. I have learned that when I get close to my destination, however, I have to put the stories on pause. My powers of concentration seem to be limited to watching the road and traffic and following the story line. Gas is too expensive to do a lot of backtracking.

I was zipping along knowing I was to get off at Exit 15 in Omaha and suddenly came out of my story-induced trance to see the Exit 72 sign. About Face!

By Mary S. Roder
Musing With Mary

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