Letter R-Reading Friends


My mother used to tell me a story about her early days of marriage. My father would drop the Travel section of the Boston Globe in her lap and say “here, take a trip for yourself!” It was a funny line, and despite my parents being adults who grew up in the Great Depression, and newlyweds on a shoe-string budget, my Mother traveled all over the world with that newspaper.

My parents loved to read, as I suspect most of you following this blog, including myself, do as well. Having said that, as much as I enjoy reading, it’s a pleasure to be around others who read and are willing to inform me of what they read. It’s not completely unlike listening to the news, or an information program on TV or a radio, except, the target audience is only one; me. It gives me a chance to ask questions and formulate ideas; my questions, my ideas. It’s a bedtime story and lifetime journey all wrapped into one.

I remember reading an interview with Charles Kuralt. Charles was the host of the long-running CBS Television segment, On The Road; an insightful and fascinating journey traveling throughout America telling the stories of the people and places he met and saw. He was asked about his wife. He said something to this effect; “She reads. She reads all kinds of things, and when she’s done reading, she comes and tells me about the stuff she’s read.“ This may not seem that enlightening, but this was long before the days of the Internet when knowledge was not as readily accessible as the end of your fingers the way it is today.

What else did they tell me?

  1. One day I was driving my mother around. I put in a cassette tape of Taj Mahal; she had never heard one note of this music before. She asked me who the artist was. When I told her, she burst with excitement. “He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts,” she said. She then proceeded to tell me all about Taj Mahal, based on an article she had just read in the Sunday paper (calling Joe Jackson). I learned a lot that day.
  2. Another day, I was sitting around talking to Comrade Baris (the good comrade, not the sleazy types). He is always great for “telling me stuff.” In our far-ranging discussions, it was revealed to me that the Whitney in the airline engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney was a descendant of Eli Whitney; the inventor of the cotton gin. One of the few “iron clad names” I remember from my early formal education. I thought it was fascinating. I had never made the connection before.

When blogging, I do a lot of research to back up and reinforce my ideas. I learn a lot. I hope you do as well.

I think the biggest difference between people teaching me stuff, and me teaching myself stuff, is that I don’t interrupt myself nearly as much as I interrupt others to pile on more questions before they even finish answering my first questions.

I can’t help it; I have a lot of questions.

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