Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More Reading with Dad

Thinking of the Old Mother West Wind stories, I'm still shaking my head in wonder at how prolific Burgess was, having written 15,000 (!) syndicated stories, delivered a popular radio show for ten years, and become a leader in the movement to protect wildlife.

Harold Garis impresses too with his thirty-year, six-day-a-week output.  I said in my last post that I'd include one of Garis's chapter endings--silly statements that besides making the child listener laugh, give the subject of tomorrow's chapter.  Here's a typical one: "And on the page after this, in case the moving picture man doesn't take our kitchen sink away to use as a fountain pen, I'll tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the lazy duck."

I think it's interesting that Burgess and Garis were journalists and kept writing day after day for their long lives, while Beatrix Potter in middle-age happily gave up her writing and illustrating children's books to become a sheep-farmer and to lead the effort to create a huge land trust.

But back to my father reading to me at bedtime....Several years passed and I was sick with measles.  The absolute worst part of this disease is that I wasn't allowed to read.  It shows you what a loving father mine was that he picked up the book I had been devouring and began reading it to me.  That book was Little Women.  I don't believe he found Jo and her sisters and handsome young Laurie very interesting but night after night he read, until I was allowed to  read again and began for myself Alcott's Little Men.

One more book I remember my dad bringing to read soon after this was The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.  As I saw the book I thought: "Well this isn't a book I'd choose but fair's fair: he read a book I love, this must be a favorite of his."

Dad began: "I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, 'tho not of that country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull...  He went on reading more of this for about five minutes, if I remember rightly, and then shut the book emphatically: "Good lord, the whole page is one sentence.  Tomorrow we'll try something else."

I don't remember his reading to me after that but one of the photos over my desk is my dad happily absorbed in a book.

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