Learning to Read

I always knew I was going to be a pilot and I also knew I would be a writer. When it came to reading and writing, there are a couple of people to whom I am very indebted. My mother is one and the other is a neighborhood girl—a girl who accidently helped me refine my reading early in my life.

Through my time growing up in Tampa, I knew I was going to be a pilot. That was my first job choice and all the kids in the neighborhood knew it. When we were in first grade and after I learned how to read, I knew I would also be a writer. Besides my mother, the girl who helped me develop my love for reading and writing was Marianne. To this day, she probably does not realize it.

When we were kids, Hillsborough County operated bookmobiles that roamed the county and stopped at various locations around the metropolitan area. The bookmobile visited our neighborhood every Saturday morning stopping at Pierce Junior High School. It was there, one day, that Marianne, as I said, accidently and gently prodded my reading career.

One Saturday morning, I was sitting in the bookmobile when Marianne walked in and caught me looking at the pictures in some of the primary readers. I liked the pictures, like most kids at that time; I was attracted to the colors and was interested in artwork. Marianne came along and looked at me sitting on the floor looking at the pictures in those books. I think, but today I am not sure, her eyes rolled back a little. (I sometimes have that effect on women… of all ages from toddlers to 90 year-olds.)

“You shouldn’t be reading those baby-books anymore,” she said. Then she showed me books more appropriate to my age-level.

Without ever knowing it, Marianne opened up a completely new world for me. The world of words! Now instead of merely looking at the pictures in the books, I was able to use my mind as a canvas and use words as the brushes to paint the colors of my ideas on the landscape of my imagination.

Marianne was the first person to which I became indebted. Her father would generously give me his skills and knowledge and help generate a curiosity within my mind for mechanical things later in life. For now, though, my adventures in reading and writing were just beginning, thanks to a girl two years older.

She was also the first girl on my list of many boyhood crushes. (Sh!!! Don’t tell and get me in trouble with Ardis…!)


© 2011 J. Clark

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