I read walking home from school. My feet knew every sidewalk crack and I did stop and look both ways before crossing the streets, I hope. At home I lay on my stomach on my bed and read. In the winter I got under the covers (no heat upstairs in the bedrooms!). At night I used a flashlight I kept under my pillow. As my mother made my bed every morning, my habit was no secret.My ninth grade biology teacher was no credit to the profession. My class was the first after lunch and he would come in, reeking, assign us a chapter to read, sit at his desk, tip his chair against the blackboard, put his feet up on a drawer and sleep. I would read the chapter, then go to my latest book. I never heard him come down the aisle. He slammed an envelope on my desk, said “Give this to your parents and bring me the answer tomorrow!” The bell rang.
I gave the envelope to my mother, who read it and said nothing. My dad read it when he came home. We ate dinner. Finally dad said, “Show me your trashy dime novel in a brown paper cover.” I had no such thing. Dad suggested it might be the book right on top of my pile of school books. “Dad, that’s your copy of Life on the Mississippi. It had that cover on it when I took it off the bookshelf.”
Dad gave me a letter in an envelope to give to my biology teacher. He suggested I make my own decision about reading in class, when my other work was done and the teacher otherwise occupied. Each of my brothers had the same teacher for biology and each said “No” when asked if I was their sister. When Jan got up to ninth grade biology, he had been “dismissed.”
When I was on the road driving to shows I addicted myself to audio books. I’m not a great fan of movies, especially adaptations of books I love. The characters in my head are not the ones I see on the screen. Stories are abridged, plots modified to cover the gaps….on and on. I’m seldom disappointed in the reading of an audio book. The few times in the last twenty years one has fallen short, I’ve donated it to the library and found a recording by a different narrator. So, I no longer walk down the street reading, but you can find me at the gym or in front of the sewing machine with my trusty MP3 player. To everyone who never interfered, Thanks. As for the biology teacher, what the heck. He made my dad chuckle. I wonder what dad wrote back.