Recently I was asked why I love to read and write so much. I guess the first person to blame would be my mother. She read to me from the moment I could sit still for more than five minutes and listen. It wasn’t long before my demands for “Just one more story….Pleasssse” were the norm every night.
I remember one story that stands out. “The Little Engine Who Could” I was around 2 or 3 when Mom cut it out of an issue of the Western Producer and I demanded to be read that story every night for weeks. Eventually the clipping got so worn and tattered, portions of it were illegible. Mom would try to skip over parts but by then I knew the whole thing by heart, word for word. I wouldn’t hesitate to set her straight.
When we would visit my cousins, quite often we would all end up huddled on a bed in the dark after supper as I retold them every story I could remember and even made up a few of my own. My first audience, what a rush.
My Grandmother gave big thick books of stories to me and my siblings every Christmas so there was never a shortage of reading material. In Alberta at that time a child couldn’t start grade one unless they were six years old on the first of September. My birthday being in November I was at risk of missing a whole year so Mom enrolled me in correspondence school and took on my education herself.
The following year we moved to Manitoba and I started to school in a one room school in the district of Silver Stream. One teacher for all the grades from 1 to 8. That was the year the the province of Manitoba school system began supplying textbooks. Prior to that parents had to buy all the books for their children.
For several months from the beginning of the school year students were bringing in all the textbooks they had at home to be evaluated as to condition, and at some point the owners would be paid for them and they would then became the property of the school board.
Those were glorious months for me. All those school books were stacked according to subject and grade on a long table at the back of the room. By Christmas time I had read every literature, science and history book from grade one to grade 12 and wishing there were more.
By grade 4 the teacher had me in a corner listening to the grade ones and twos read out loud so she could concentrate on another grade. She knew it was useless to have me reading the next story in my own textbook along with my own classmates, as I had read the entire book long before.
So throughout the years I always excelled at English and Literature classes with top marks. I wish I could say the same about mathematics. I had many fabulous English teachers over the years who were very supportive. Have I written the great Canadian novel yet? No, but I’m working on it. Stay tuned.