Right now I’m reading “A Daughter’s Tale,” written by Mary Soames, Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter. It is a memory of growing up in the rarefied atmosphere of his iconic father and his capable and elegant wife, Clementine.
I have just started reading it, but I already find it interesting. Mary Soames gives readers a factual insight into the daily life of an English child in a prominent and wealthy family. We also get first-hand glimpses of the social milieu the Churchills moved into. The book introduces us to the caring, often funny family side of the determined and indomitable Churchill. He was one of the first important international figures I remember clearly, along with FDR, Queen Elizabeth and Harry Truman.
What a cast that was to lead the free world during the volatile and critical period of World War II. I have always admired Churchill’s bulldog tenacity in the face of his enemies and the eloquent, inspiring and encouraging words of his speeches during World War II. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.
People also read…
Books have always been an important part of my life. They have even been an escape and support in difficult times. Some people have a highball or a glass of wine at these times. I take a good book.
My mother and my cousin Gloria read nursery rhyme or fairy tale books to me every day long before I started reading on my own, which I did at an early age. Mom said that one of my first statements when she told me it was time to go to sleep was, “In very soon. Right after finishing this chapter.
“Coming soon” was my usual answering machine when I was told to do something. Even though I was reading quite well, my grammar still had some way to go.
Here are some of the books I remember reading between the ages of 5 and 12. You won’t find any in-depth or scholarly titles here.
The first ones I read were the nursery rhymes and the “Grimm’s Tales” which had so often been read aloud to me. I had probably memorized them. Some of the books I read were from my aunt’s home library, where I spent a lot of time. She had a large library inherited from her family. Some of them were heavy graves which didn’t interest me at all. But there were also the complete works of Mark Twain for later reading, and little books perfectly suited for a child’s hand. “Apple Mary” is the one I remember about a nice little lady who sold apples in a corner of New York. She was always helpful and solved the problems of the people she met.
The book on Little Orphan Annie with the poem that began: “Little orphan Annie came to stay with us, and wash the cups and saucers, and brush the crumbs, and chase the chickens off the porch, dust the hearth, sweep, and make the fire, and bake the bread, and earn his board and upkeep; And all of us other children, when the supper things are done, We set the fire round the kitchen fire and have the most nin’ fun to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells, An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!” When Gloria read it, she always jumped on me on the last word! She could read it a hundred times, and I would scream when she did, then ask her to read it again.
I also looked forward to each month, I think it was Good Housekeeping magazine that published a continuing one-column story about Little Black Sambo and his dog Sukie. I vividly remember sitting at the kitchen table with my aunt and reading that month’s story aloud while she was mending socks or hand finishing dress. She listened and helped me with all the words that I didn’t know or that I misread. It was a learning class for me, but I just saw it as a good time.
Other books: The Bobbsey Twins series (I finally got the whole set), The Uncle Wiggly books (about a nice old Mr. Rabbit who used a crutch and his friends and two enemies), “Black Beauty”, I cried on that one while I also did more “Bambi”, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Peter Pan”, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Little House on the Prairie”.
Beatrix Potter’s “Peter Rabbit” was one of my favorites because I loved the illustrations. I told mum I thought Mr. McGregor had moved his garden next to our house, because the neighbor who planted it was always making war on the rabbits who came into his garden, and any dog that could cross threw a clod of earth. to him. He said it was best never to catch any of us neighborhood kids in his backyard, even to retrieve a ball that might have landed there. We never did and stayed well off his fence. He was a very grumpy man! My dad said he probably had hemorrhoids. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I didn’t want to have it, it made you so grumpy.
Alberta and Amelia Dosenbach were older cousins who lived in Clayton whom we visited occasionally. They gave me their complete set of 22 Dorothy Dainty books that they had read when they were young girls. The books were written by Amy Brook and published between 1902 and 1923. Dorothy was the only child of wealthy parents and had many exciting adventures. I loved the books because they took you back in time to visit the way of life of that period. I have since passed them on to a cousin who also loves the story and will pass them on to her daughter.
I collected Nancy Drew’s books and even read a few Hardy Boys as I got older. It was the gift I gave my cousin Stanley Detring every year for Christmas. I then borrowed them later to read them.
As soon as I was old enough to walk to the public library alone, I got my library card and felt like I had found Nirvana. Since that first visit, I have become a constant patron. In fact, I’m here every week to give feedback and borrow more books. I admit it… I am addicted to reading!
For me, libraries are not a luxury; they are a necessity. They are a reservoir of knowledge and experience passed down from generation to generation. With a book, you are never alone. I always look for two things first when I move to a new community: a church and the library. These two provide everything you need.
I am always happy to see young children in the library in their own special section browsing the books, enjoying story time and other creative activities the staff have organized for them. I almost applaud when a child clutching a favorite book or two goes to pay at the counter. He is a child who has found the path to a solid future. He has found a friend for life: the pleasure and comfort of a good book.
So tell me. Have you read any good books lately?