Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Part of my backlog of books to read in my basement library

Now there is a blog title to grab your attention.  

I am passionate about a lot of things.  Politics,  friends, movies, music, genealogy research, photography, gardening, food and……reading.  

Of course I am a passionate lover but this isn't the forum to go into that passion.  Co-workers, friends, family and hubby reads this blog….occasionally and I wouldn't want to embarrass them (or myself) with a written account of my naked passion in that arena,  maybe someday folks but not today.

What I'm writing about today folks is my passion for reading.  I believe I've written about this subject before but I feel the urge to write about it again.  

I first began reading back in the Fifties.  "Force read" I call it since it was the Dick and Jane books with "see Spot (their dog) run."  I remember even at that early age "WTF?" Of course the acronym "WTF" didn't exist then (I take literary license) but I knew even then that THIS wasn't the reading I was destined for.

So while I whiled away my time in boredom at the back of my elementary school class, I noticed a row of orange book binder books on the shelf behind me.  Up until that time the only other reading I had done was the Weekly Reader, which, if I remember correctly was a "Weakly Reader."  No meat, not much substance. "WTF?"  

The "Weakly" Reader during my time - early 1950's
While Mrs. Yost droned up in front of the class I turned around and took one of those orange books off the shelf.  The one I chose was "A Biography of Ben Franklin."  

A "Little Orange Book" - I couldn't find one for Ben Franklin on the Internet but it looked like this -  I think I also read this one - I read them all!
I would read that book in class while teach up front was telling the rest of the class to "see Dick" doing whatever he was doing.

My old East Ward Elementary school - I took this photo from the back porch of my friend Larry Meredith - I wish I had  taken more photos of this school because it is no longer - this grand old building was torn down in the late 90's to make way for a new elementary school which looks like crap.  I am so lucky that I lived at a time to attend school at such a grand old building and not one of these Russian mausoleums that they call elementary schools today.

My sixth grade classroom where I began serious reading.  I sat in the back but on the day this photo was taken I was at home, quarantined with both of my brothers, one of whom had scarletina fever.  Thus a very historical photo was lost without me in it.  

Eventually I read all the biographies including Alexander Hamilton, Lewis and Clark and including even a book on their Indian guide Sacagawea.  

"Take that next bend and that's the Northwest Territories"
 Now that my reading appetite was whetted, next up was to get my library card at the Downingtown library.

The Downingtown Public Library
The Downingtown Library was located in an old stone building like the East Ward Elementary school where my reading gene was first awakened.  The library was only a few short blocks on Lancaster Avenue from the school which was located on Washington Avenue.  

When I first entered the library I was almost overcome by the welcoming old musty smell of the thousands of books that line their walls to the ceiling.  

I got my library card and began reading in ernest.  Oh those were the days.  Whole new exotic worlds were opened to me.  

This was back in 1951 folks, when I was a mere slip of a lad of ten years old. 

Me, my fifth grade elementary school photo - bad hair but genuine, eager smile

Folks, my seduction in the world of reading was complete. I was no longer interested in what "Dick" was up to, I wanted to explore the world.  I wanted to experience other folks lives; their successes, their failures and their relationships.  

Folks, that was over sixty years ago. I've read a lot of books since that innocent, duck under your desk in case an A-bomb is dropped on us, time.  

This morning Bill and I went out on this very hot and muggy July summer morning to drop some items (mine of course) off at the thrift store.  As is my won't I checked out their books lining their shelves.  Wow, 50 cents each.  I bought three.  Next thrift store I bought two more.  The last thrift store I bought three more.  Those books are now in the Tipton Library in my basement, patiently awaiting me to devour them as I have been doing for the past sixty years or so.  

At any given time I'm usually reading two books. One that I place on my bed headboard (current book a biography on Bob Hope - what a skinflint and womanizer - who knew?) and one in my bathroom "library" (a convoluted biography of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris who I am having a very difficult time plowing through but I will get through, there as some good nuggets of information about our 40th president in this book once you get past the self aggrandizement of Mr. Morris who considers himself quite the writer).  

My preferred reading is biographies and histories and current events.  I don't give much time to fiction, true life to me is always more interesting than some made up fluff.  I'm not a mystery or thriller fan in books but I am in the movies.  Give me a good, well writing biography and I'm happy.  

Maybe someday I'll write a book.  About what?  My life of course.  There is no more interesting subject that I know of.  At least of me.  Of course I know this wouldn't be a best seller but what I do know that there is someone out there like me who would appreciate my adventures in life.  That's why I keep a journal.  Good reading for someone in the future, that is if they aren't thrown out with the trash when I die. 

What doesn't go into my blog is in these journals. Oh my.


Jack said...


Once again you take me down the road of the past, remembering bygone days of youth. I think that we of that era are more inclined to read a real book than the youth of today. Firstly, we didn't have much television to watch, we didn't even get a TV until I was seven or eight. We were entertained by the record player, the radio and by reading books. Lots and lots of books. I like you have spent a lifetime of reading from non fiction, biographies, auto biographies histories and now in my later years, well written suspense and mystery books that I avoided back in the day. I still like a good biography and auto biography and non fiction novel and keep them in my "library". One thing I did a couple of years ago was buy a Kindle. It wasn't with the intent of using it as a replacement for the standard bound book but as a communication devise when I was away from my computer for the better part of the year I took care of my mother before she died. That being said, books on the kindle are so much easier for me to read than the actual bound book ( I do still read those btw) and they take up so much less room in the "library". Whichever way you read a book, the important thing at this stage of our advancing years is that we can hold the book, see the print and remember what we read.

Keep on reading.


Jack said...


I wanted to mention also that if you really look at it in the true sense, your blog is an auto biography so in my humble opinion, you are writing your book with each post.


anne marie in philly said...

in the first grade I read at a 6th grade level. "dick and jane" were B-O-R-I-N-G compared to nancy drew (hey, 1960).

like you, I read bio, autobio, history, philly history, travel, baseball, trains, knitting. once in a great while a fiction, but it has to be from my fave authors lisa scottoline or jennifer weiner. currently I am reading a bio of opera singer marian anderson, a great philadelphian.

Melissa said...

I Love to Read and always have much to the harping of my husband who thinks I read too much!!! I wondered about the Bob Hope book when you mentioned it the other day, I am off to order it now.

Anonymous said...

My earliest memories are of my parents reading to me. I loved the Dick and Jane book, and like you, quickly graduated to much more substantial reading material. I still love a good book! Best times of my life (outside certain other passionate endeavors) are reading!

Love this post!!!
Peace <3

Ron said...

One area of reading that I didn't even touch on in my post was comic books. As you said, we grew up in an era (Fifties) where there wasn't much entertainment by way of TV and certainly not the Internet which supplies the bulk of diversionary entertainment these days. I've read a few books on line and did find them easier to read but I still like holding a book wherever I go. Plus, I don't like paying full price for a digital book. What's with that? The publishers save the cost of printing and distributing the book but still charge full price? No thanks, I'll still get the real book that I'm paying for. That said, I do like larger print the older I get. Thus the largest font possible on my blog.

Ron said...

I consider my blog my autobiography too. My only regret is that I can't write everything in it because of relatives and friends and even strangers on the Internet who have access to my blog and would use that personal information against me. Several times in the past I have written things of a personal nature on my blog and stirred up a hornet's nest of anger and disillusionment from those who chose to ignore or bury facts from the past. I only write the truth and things as they actually happened but, apparently, that is too much for some. Thus I tread a fine line with what I write about in my blog. Now my journal entries, that's a whole different thing.

Ron said...

Your husband thinks you read too much? No one can ever read too much. At least that's one thing Bill hasn't accused me of, reading too much. I just wish I had more time to read. By the way, the Bob Hope book is very good. Arthur Marx (son of Groucho) wrote it and he leaves little out. All the juicy tidbits are in his book. That's the kind of book I like!

Ron said...

The best times of my life also (outside certain other passionate "endeavors") are reading. What's good about reading is that a good book is always available whereas the "other passionate endeavors", well…..not so much.

Ron said...

Here, I'll try for the third time to respond to your comment. I don't know why Blogger keeps kicking me off, maybe because I don't have ads on my blog. Here we go again, I agree that some of the best times of my life were reading (and still is) a good book. Of course the "other passionate endeavors" are great too but how often are we lucky enough for those occasions to occur? A good book is always available. The passionate endeavors, not so much. Thanks for your comment Jay.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,
Sometimes I like fiction but I have found true life vastly more interesting than made up stories. They have more depth. Most of the fiction I've read has been so contrived. I can see right through it and it is BORING.

nitewrit said...

Maybe you already know, but our wonderful old library is no longer the Downingtown Library. They have built some modern building elsewhere and closed the old library across from where Stuart used to live. Don't know yet what will be its fate. It holds a special place in my heart having spent many a night there either reading my way through the stacks or typing my stories on the library typewriter that the librarian allowed me to use. She was always encouraging me when many others weren't. I wish I had photos of the interior.


Jon said...

A wonderful post, especially since I can so completely identify with it. Reading has always been the greatest pleasure of my life (along with music and....sex, of course.....). When I was in first grade we didn't have the "Dick and Jane" books. We were subjected to "Ted and Sally", but it was all the same. And I certainly remember those tedious "Weekly Readers" that we were forced to read. Libraries and bookstores were always my regular haunts.

Like you, I have always kept a journal - - I have stacks of them from when I was ten years old. I've always maintained that our blogs can be compiled into books. They are indeed our autobiographies. But, as you said, there are many private things that I don't write in my blog - mostly because it is read by relatives, friends, and those anonymous strangers.....

Ur-spo said...

I too have a pile of 'to read' books and a pile of journals going back for years - saved for what end I wonder? I should get cracking on the to do list.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,
"And to what end?" Indeed. I've often thought the same thing myself. Some of my "to read" books go back over 40 years. Yikes!

Ron said...

I am so often tempted to write about "everything" in my blog, if for no other reason than historical accuracy and permanency, but I dare not. The few times I have "stuck my toe in the water", I was immediately blasted by some long ago person who took offense to me outing long held secrets or self induced lies. At one time I thought I could write about certain family matters after my uncles died but I still can't do that because they're children are still alive and will probably outlive me and I don't want to ruin those relationships, such as they are. And then there are those very private, intimate episodes of my life that I'm just itching to write about but again, I dare not. I can just imagine my fellow co-workers and/or neighbors reading about it and having a whole new opinion of me which I admit, I wouldn't be too comfortable about. So there it lies, stories and experiences never to be repeated but only in my memory bank. Maybe someday I'll write a book under a pseudonym.