Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Childhood Addiction

An article in last week’s paper spotlighted a new addiction among kids: video games. Kids want play video games all day long, won’t go outside and do stuff, suffer withdrawal symptoms when they can’t play, etc. Apparently video game addiction is now a bona fide disorder.

That article got me thinking. I had an addiction when I was a kid. Heck, it’s a habit I still haven’t kicked.

This addiction consumed most of my waking moments. I’d even indulge at night by flashlight.

I couldn’t really help myself. There wasn’t much else to do in the 1950s. No computers or cell-phones or iPods or even CD players. Only two TV channels came in clear, and—except for Saturday mornings and maybe an hour in the late afternoons— the programs were mainly geared to grown-ups. Plus all the shows were black and white.

Nobody’s mama drove. The mamas were always busy doing housework or cooking or canning or sewing to pay any attention to kids old enough to entertain themselves. They were just relieved the kids weren’t underfoot.

So, with nothing to do and not much parental attention, many of us became addicted. I was one of the hard-core addicts. It was pretty easy to get my fix when school was in session, but summers were a problem.

Every week in summer, when I was eleven, I’d get on a city bus all by myself, ride downtown, and walk several blocks to the place I could get my fix: the Roanoke Public Library.

Yep, I was addicted to reading. Every week, I’d bring home a stack of books. I think I read all the biographies in the low shelf against the back wall. Most of them had orange covers. Remember them? I read about Bedford Forrest, John James Audubon, Clara Barton, Molly Pitcher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ulysses S. Grant—if it had an orange cover, I read it.

And the Black Stallion series, too. I was a sucker for a horse book—still am. (Sara Gruen’s Riding Lessons is the best I’ve read in the last couple of years.)

I read mysteries, too. I don’t think they were Nancy Drew, though, but most of them had titles that began, “The Mystery of the—.” Those were he ones I just had to keep reading until I found out who solved the mystery and how.

Besides library books, I read comic books about Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Little Lulu, Looney Toons—whatever Evans Drug Store on Williamson Road had on the rack whenever I got my allowance.

And I read magazines: mostly McCalls and Ladies Home Journal, but sometimes Family Circle and Woman’s Day. I read parts of the Roanoke World-News—mostly the funnies, but sometimes a few news stories. When I was twelve, I started reading movie magazines—Modern Screen and Photoplay.

We didn’t have air conditioning in the 1950s, so in summer I’d lie on the front porch glider in the shade and read for most of the day. I’d have read all night, too, but that would have been “wasting electricity” and the 40-watt overhead bulb wasn’t easy to read by. A flashlight under the covers got me through the rough spots when I just had to know what happened next.

I never got over my addiction, and I’m not sure I want to. I usually read a couple of books at a time, though in different genres. Every room in my house has books and magazines. (I’m always amazed when I visit someone who doesn’t have a magazine rack in every bathroom. What do they do in there?)

Now, besides reading books, three newspapers, and several magazines, I spend an hour or more everyday just reading blogs on the computer. Whenever I can, I go to readings by authors whose works I admire. I’ll never kick my addiction.

You wanna help? Send books. . . .

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Blogger House on the Glade Hill said...

I do think a book exchange is in order someday. I too, have been addicted. I just ordered a new book shelf from my father, the retired engineer - gone wood worker. He builds all of my furniture now (this is most of the reason I moved up here - delivery was getting to be a problem)

I have spent many nights hidden under my blanket, flashlight in hand, exploring new territories and sharing in the growing pains of other girls my age. I just sent a list of books I would like to get to my sister for my birthday. My mom feeds this addiction by giving me all of her leftover books. If it weren't for her, I would have to buy all of my books, and keep them all. Our exchanges have given me sanity over the years.

We have BAD - book addiction disorder. lol

2:03 PM  

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