Thursday, January 28, 2016

Me and Books…and writing-Peggy Blann Phifer

Blog topics are hard to come by these days. Especially so now since I write for two other blogs, plus my own, plus here for Helping Hands Press. So I was at a loss for something for today. So I dug through some of my old files and came up with this. I wrote it sometime in early 1990.

Books are a never-fail subject, so I thought…why not?

From my earliest memories books were an integral part of our family life. One of my first books, they tell me, was made from some sort of heavy, woven cloth, four or six pages sewn together down the middle. Mostly pictures, I presume. Virtually indestructible. From there, my sister, brother and I graduated to The Little Golden Books. Remember them?

But even before we could read on our own, we were read to, and that tradition continued for many years. My dad had an 8mm movie camera and there are many scenes of us kids sitting in the front yard on a blanket on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Mom reading to us. I would sit with my eyes closed and see the places as she read.

I trembled with Jack at the top of the Beanstalk. My mind painted vivid scenes as we traveled through the Slough of Despond with Pilgrim. I was one with the little Dutch children skating on the frozen waters of Holland with Hans Christian Anderson; I flew on Aladdin’s magic carpet. And always there were the children’s stories from the Bible.

I am unsure just when my folks bought the World Book Encyclopedia, and kept the annual year books coming, but I can still see the bottom two shelves of the bookcase in our dining room filled with blue volumes packed with fascinating stuff. Many hours were consumed in a fascinating world of history, geography, botany, biology, and page after page of pictures of animals, birds, and the human anatomy. It was just as easy to lose myself in the strange and wonderful world presented between the yellow covers of the National Geographic.

I suffered with childhood asthma and, in those days, there was little that could be done to help. No inhalers, no nebulizers or any Broncho-dilator medication. As a result, I spent days, sometimes weeks, confined at home, often in bed, wheezing, struggling to breathe. My teacher would send my schoolwork home with my sister, and after completing my day’s homework, I would escape into the wonderful world of books. I devoured every book in our little one-room school library. Yes, I said a one-room school…all eight grades.

This was also the time when I began to write. I created some fantastic stories, combinations of all the stories I’d loved. I had Cinderella meeting young King Arthur; Goldilocks and her three bears rescued Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf. David, Samson and Gideon became The Three Musketeers. Nothing was too far-fetched for a sick little girl to conjure up in her mind and put to paper. Sadly, none of these writings survived the passage of time.

When I entered high school, the school bus didn’t come out our way so I had to ride back and forth each day with my dad. His hours didn’t match school hours, so when school let out in the afternoon I had to find a place to go to wait for Daddy. Where else but the public library only a few blocks walk from the school?

Yes, books became my friends, my escape, and my fantasy. They still are. My reading taste is eclectic and you’ll find everything from Tolstoy’s War and Peace to a collection of Grace Livingston Hill, Emile Loring, Eugenia Price to Mary Higgins Clark; Ian Fleming to Leon Uris (Exodus) to Alexandre Dumas to James Michener and Nora Roberts. And of course…Gone with the Wind.

I don’t know what I’d do without books. I’ve been known to panic if I didn’t have a book to read. That’s when I pull out an old favorite and read it again. And yes, I’ve read War and Peace twice!

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

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