Wednesday, December 14, 2005

How I Learned to Read

The first credit goes to Mom. When we were crumb-crunchin' ankle biters, she used to read to us (I have two bros and a sis) from The Brothers Grimm: the old one in which Gretel killed the Wicked Witch, and the Big Bad Wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood's sweet old Granny, then was executed by the Good Woodsman. I've had a thing for girls in red hoodies ever since.

In the Frozen North, when I was a wee lad, there was no TV. Oh, we all saw the ads for Sylvania and RCA TVs in The Saturday Evening Post, and we sure wanted one. There were no TV stations in the area. So, no Howdy Doody and no Uncle Miltie.

I floated through school, learning to read, write and all the other stuff while investing as little of my time as possible, because there were so many other, more important things to do!

My next mentor was my Senior year English teacher, Mrs Steen. I don't think she did anything dramatic, but she had a way of teaching that got me reading. I finally began to see the value in books. I got acqainted with the early novels of Robert Heinlein and others.

In the Navy, there's an amazing amount of down time. There were several hours with nothing to do every day we were at sea. That's when I got acquainted with James Bond, Matt Helm, Mike Hammer and Shell Scott.

Soon after gettin out of the Navy, I moved to LA. While getting started on my career in construction, I stumbled on a book called "The Fountainhead." It changed my life. Over half the books I've read from then to this day have had to do with objectivism, libertarianism, free market economics and self-reliance. The rest of them were sci-fi, western and historical novels. I literally carry my current book with me wherever I go, in case I should find five or ten minutes to read a few pages.

They've enriched my life in more ways than I know and helped make me the charming, well-informed bon vivant I am today. I also have over a thousand volumes that I have to lug around with me whenever I move. Well, sometimes I want to reread one of them!

I read "Atlas Shrugged" about every year or so. I'm reading "The Order of the Phoenix" right now.

I'm not sure I'd recommend that everyone become as much the reading fanatic as I, but one could do worse. I find it distressing that today's schools don't seem to be able to teach many students how to read, and they teach even fewer of them to like reading. I guess that's why they put pictures of the hamburgers on the cash register keyboard at McDonald's.


Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

1 comment:

The Wine Commonsewer said...

My ma used to read to me and I give her the credit for my being a voracious reader.

I watched Howdy Doody but have no recollection. That's because I am sooooo much younger than you. Cereal, I was just a wee lad and my first TV memories were Captain Kangaroo and old B&W Buster Keaton movies they showed early Sat morning before the cartoons began.