I love the written word

... I love to read. Anything. Everything.

by Betty Rossi

I love to read. Anything. Everything. I am a lover of the written word. From poetry to biographies. Cookbooks and art to the news and I have my father to thank for it. From my earliest memories, I can remember my brother Skip and I sitting on my father's knee on the old wooden rocking chair, listening to him read to us. When we got too big to all fit on the rocking chair, we would sit at his feet and listen to him read and sing his ballads. My brother Robert was born eight years after us and I really don't remember him sitting there with us. Just before bedtime, he would tell us tales of the West, poetry, novels. You name it, he read it to us. Sometimes, we even got "the song" along with the story. One that has stuck in my memory my whole life was about "Frankie and Johnie" and how they were sweethearts and she "done him wrong". Heidi, and how she lived in the Alps with her grandfather was another story that stayed with me forever. I have never had to re-read most of the stories and tales and poetry that he read to us every night. Hiawatha and the Shores of Gichigoomi, the Bowery, and the Land of Counterpane. When I would cry for the heroine, my brother Skip, who is three years younger than I am, would cry, not because he was sad, but because he would see me sobbing over the tale of the night.

"Half a league, half a league, rode the six hundred", "Fields of daffodils", the Three Musketeers" and Dartanian, to "The Three Little Kittens and how they lost their mittens and they began to cry". When he had more time, we got the stories, to be continued the next night, but when there wasn't much time and it was "way past our bedtime", we got the poetry or songs about "Bill Grogan's Goat and how he tied that goat onto the railroad tracks when the train was coming because he had eaten those shirts right off the line". I don't remember there being a ton of books around our house, but there were always, always stories to listen to.

When I started school, there was a small branch of the library in the Lincoln School. "The Bobsey Twins" and all of their adventures about them being at Silver Lake or about how they grew, "Dick and Jane" and so very many more books. I can remember reading "Swan Lake" with Miss Prebble and "Dante's Inferno" as I grew older. Now, I am a hoarder of the written word. The newspaper every day and I usually have two books going at the same time. Right now, I'm reading about Sacco and Vanzetti after dinner at the kitchen table and "The Day that John Died" about John Kennedy, between watching television and waiting for the Red Sox baseball games to start.

I read to my children from the minute that they were born. They are also lovers of the written word. My grandchildren are a different story. Even though my daughter and son both read to them, they are lovers of television and watch their "stories" on Kindles and television. Vampires and forensic medicine shows have taken the place of "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat". Peter Pan and Cinderella are "from Disneyland" or Florida, not stories, but characters to have your picture taken with.

I wonder what their children will read.  

July 4, 2014

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