The Gift of Reading I have not always been a reader. Growing up I read comic books and some time during my twelfth year I started reading western paperback novels. I think it was in the eighth grade, maybe an english class our teacher marched us to the school library and told us to check out four books. I think i was the only one in the class who had not found anything to check. The teacher insisted I find something to read preferably something I was interested in. Finally she helped me.She asked if I liked stories of the far north, stories of pirates. Too many big words. She told us to write a report on one of our books. I did along with everybody else but I did a poor job. I didn’t know how to go about writing a report.. We were made to read these reports aloud in class. I was embarrassed. I was a poor reader up until after I married. Early on around the sixth or seventh grade my uncle used to visit us occasionally. We lived in Wichita Falls, Texas. My uncle lived in Breckenridge, a hundred miles or so to the south. On his visits he always brought a western paper back novel with him. We would sit around in the living room which also was where mom and dad’s bed was located. The room had one chair beside the bed. Dad would sit in the chair, mom on the bed and I would either sit on the bed on on the floor. My uncle Sam would always sit on the floor, his back to the wall and sometime for hours at night they would talk. Mom and dad were always eager for news of the family and uncle Sam stayed in touch with everyone so he was always a source of family news. If there was a lag in the conversation, Sam would pull out his book from his hip pocket and read a while until either mom or dad asked a question or said something and then conversation would resume. I always wanted to listen in when uncle Sam would visit. Dad couldn’t read. He tried to read the bible and often mother would read it to him. And sometime the newspaper if someone brought one to the house and left it. When dad’s brother, Sam would visit and he would pull out his book to read when conversation lagged, It would irritate dad to no end. He would say, “I don’t know why you come to visit if all you’re going to do is sit there and read.” Sometime an argument would ensue and on a couple of occasions uncle Sam would get up and leave. Go stay with a sister who lived nearby or drive back to Breckenridge. On one of those occasions, as he was packing up his stuff to leave and I was carrying something out to his truck for him, he reached behind the seat and handed me a western paperback novel, “Yo might enjoy reading this sometime, but I wouldn’t let your daddy catch you reading.” I told him I would read it and thanked him and told him I hated to see him go. He said, ”It is better this way.” Shortly after my discharge from the army I got a job with Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company. When they hired me they told me in a couple of weeks I’d have to move to Rankin. We moved at our own expense. The country around Rankin was sheep country and oil. A place to live was hard to find so we lived in Big Lake which was fifteen or twenty miles east of Rankin and drove to Rankin each morning to work. I would go to work at five or six in the morning and often get home at night after midnight. We were guaranteed one hundred and twenty hours a week regardless of how few we worked but not expected to complain if we had to work more. I was assigned to the Frac Department, a dirty, often oil-soaked job and most often traveled to a location to work a hundred or more miles to each day. My roommate was afraid to stay by herself often alone over night but she toughed it out. Rankin had a one room library. I think Ann read every book in the library. She was their best patron. The first friends she made in Rankin were the librarians. When we moved back to Wichita Falls, Ann was happy because they had a large library. I worked for Texas Electric Service Company six years before we moved to Lubbock. In Lubbock, Ann in addition to holding down a job, got involved with Friends of the Library. And she read a lot. It was in Lubbock I began to read something other than what I was not required to read and of course, Westerns. I realized I was not a good reader. A slow reader, I think I read on a good day maybe four hundred words a minute. During our tenure in Lubbock, I took or studied three speed reading courses. The best one for me was one my brother who was a career airman in the Air Force sent me. It was put out by the Air Force. My speed and comprehension increased dramatically so that i really enjoyed reading. Now after a lengthy retirement my roommate does not see well enough to read much. I am blind in on eye. Some time ago I would read aloud something that held an interest for us both. This morning she said to me, “I wish you would look at this book and see if you think it is something we could read together. I have examined the book. It is “The Artist’s Way.” A sub title says, ‘A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Spiritual Self.’ This is something we do at the end of day after we have gone to bed. I think Ann will enjoy it. She is a very creative person and I may learn something. So as they say in the movies or perhaps elsewhere, the journey continues.