Love of books learned early

Published 12:05 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

As an only child growing up before television sets held prominent places in our homes, I spent a lot of my leisure time reading. Every summer I made weekly treks to a big old house with a rambling porch with a cabinet attached to the wall—the community library. Mrs. Griffin, the sweet lady who lived there with her husband and four daughters, stopped whatever she was doing to unlock the cabinet and check in my borrowed books. Then I searched the children’s shelf and made my selection.

Both my parents were avid readers. Daddy read the morning and evening newspapers through and through every day. He was a baseball fan and especially focused on the sports section. Of all the choices in our home bookcases, including some of the classics, he most often had a dictionary under his nose. I don’t know if he was sharpening his spelling skills or absorbing definitions; maybe both. He sent me to the dictionary if I asked him to spell a word. It frustrated me then. Later I realized that he was teaching me to sharpen my own spelling skills. After I grew up, when I came across an unfamiliar word, I couldn’t wait to challenge him with the spelling. I seldom found one he couldn’t spell.

My mother enjoyed wholesome magazines and novels. She told me that she stayed up all night reading “Gone with the Wind.”

It is no surprise that I grew into adulthood with a love for the written word. I know there are some who consider books scattered all over a house an annoyance. It must be a trial to someone like that if their spouse constantly clutters the house with books. Thankfully, I married a reader. My husband said as a young soldier, he would arrive at a theatre early, take a paperback book out of his pocket, and read until the movie started. He especially enjoyed the Bible and adventure books.

As the years passed, books multiplied on any available space in our house. We jammed every bookcase in the house, tucked books in nooks and crannies, piled them on bedside tables, and placed them on end tables. Repeated visits to library book sales, yard sales, used book stores, and adding to favorite collections through Ebay were about to push us into hoarders’ category.

We finally had our attached garage converted into a personal library. It was hard work, but fun, sorting, cataloging, and placing books on the shelves. Unfortunately, my husband’s eyesight began failing. Several years before his passing, he relinquished the pleasure of holding books in his hands. Instead, he listened to books on tape, furnished by the Alabama Library for the Blind and Handicapped. He so appreciated that service.

Today I still use and enjoy our library. As I scan the shelves, I am swept up with memories ranging from my selecting books from a little cabinet on a porch to the good times my husband and I had stocking our little library.