Paper bags yielded sweet rewards

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Remember those brown paper bags you used to get at the grocery store?

I watched as a cashier stuffed someone’s ice cream inside one the other day, and I thought back to the last time one of those bags had crossed my threshold.

It was years ago, I knew, but there was no ice cream inside. And while my teenaged self would have been pleased with the treat, it held another treasure – books.

Both of my grandmothers were readers. There wasn’t a cranny in one’s Shiloh Cemetery home that wasn’t stacked high with material of varying topics. Murder mysteries were her favorite, if memory serves me correctly.

But it was my other grandmother – my mother’s mother – who had a passion for the brown bag. Before moving in with other family, she lived with us for many years. She had an absolute love of reading, so I guess you could say it’s genetic. My kids (or at least two of them) have it, too.

She used to cart these bags in by the carload sometimes. She’d read anything that had a touch of romance to it – the more bodice-ripping scenes, the better.

Since I write for a living, one might guess that math isn’t my strong suit – never has been, and never will be; however, it’s because of math that I discovered my love of reading.

I made my first “C” in the sixth grade. Shocking, I know. It got me grounded for six weeks, because back then, we got report cards every six weeks instead of the nine-weeks it is now. No friends, no TV and no radio. We were poor, so video games didn’t factor into it. It was then I discovered I needed nothing but the contents of one of those paper bags to keep me company. Why worry about the drivel on TV when I could read about a lord wooing his lady or figuring out the mastermind in the who-done-it?

Delicious stuff, I tell you.

I’ve talked with other people whose grandmothers, aunts and moms did the same thing. It’s just not done now. Technology has all but taken the paper out of reading.

I do have a confession to make. As much as I love my Kindle, I love the feel of a book’s pages between my fingers. I never remember to turn library books in on time, so to get my fix, it only takes a trip to the local Christian Mission. There, instead of brown paper bags, they will pile them deep inside a plastic Wal-Mart bag. I guess when it comes down to it, it’s the contents that matter.