— — — —
Occasionally as we go through our life’s journey we run across those little gems that brighten our day. Sometimes they renew our faith in mankind. Sometimes they confirm a belief that we’ve held. Sometimes they shock us.
So during the Christmas season, one of my duties here at the newspaper was to help type Santa letters to be published.
Reading some of these letters was very entertaining. In fact, I made note that I might have stumbled across fodder for a new reality television show.
But on one particular day I typed into the computer several letters where kids asked for books to read. I stopped and cleaned my glasses and re-read those letters because they seemed to be way outside the norm. Kids actually wanted to read books?
Suddenly I felt uplifted that the printed word was still attractive to some very young people — that possibly this form of communication would not one day be just a display in the Smithsonian with a vast collection of multi-syllable words that had been replaced by primeval grunts and gestures.
I was so excited that some kids wanted books that I announced it to the staff. It was like I had accidentally stumbled across something that had been lost for a while — like the key that unlocks the little box encasing the thermostat outside my office.
You see the letters as a group were dominated by requests for gizmos. They wanted turbo charged x-boxes, I-Pads and remote controlled things that simulated super beings or devices designed to destroy tall buildings and camel farms. Some wanted the latest versions of cell phones so they could text messages from one end of the sofa to their friend on the other end of that same sofa.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to gizmos per se. I use some of them every day — whether I want to or not. I’ve got a “smart” phone. In fact, it’s much smarter than me. And at this moment I will short circuit whoever is about to send me an email and tell me that two coffee cans with string connecting them are smarter than me. Sorry to steal your thunder, but I agree.
I routinely read studies that show reading for pleasure is becoming somewhat of a lost art, subsequently diminishing the ability to effectively communicate by writing. I’ve always seen the two as a tandem.
Not long ago, a fellow told me that he had not read a book since he left high school. Please note that he said he “left” high school ... he did not say he graduated.
Of course he did not have to announce the fact that he had shunned books with such success. It was rather obvious. What I mean is, he thought “gene therapy” was about massaging his Levis and that Chevron Island was a real place somewhere in the South Pacific. He thinks Central America is that area covered by Nebraska and Kansas and wonders why the electoral college doesn’t have a football team. My guess is, if he ever entered a library he would carry a small wooden cross and wear garlic around his neck just in case enlightenment should attack him.
I’ve always enjoyed reading. It goes back to the days when I would climb into the hay loft with “Robinson Crusoe,” “The Yearling,” or maybe “The Last of the Mohicans.” I recall the first time I read a book non-stop — even skipped supper I was so engrossed. It was “The Old Man and Sea.” After I finished it, I took a shower to get the salty spray off me. And I had a sudden urge to eat fried mullet.
I’m hoping that these requests for books are not an anomaly, like a Congressman promoting term limits. I hope it gets downright contagious. Long live the written word!
(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)