My first bicycle. Note the casual Amazonian outfit for my first bike ride and the sun squint that eventually lined my face. Little did I know that I would one day ride a bike thousands of miles across four states.
My first book, Baby Animals, a Rand McNally Junior Elf book for 15 cents. Adorable dog, kitten, and chick on cover. Cheap books brought literacy, literature, and book-collecting into our house.
My mother must have been relieved when I learned to read. I woke her up every morning at 5:30 to be read to. This was a typical scene in our house (picture at right). Mom reading (and having a bad hair day), I listening. The boredom for her, the excitement for me. Our next-door neighbor was a one-room school teacher whose job was cut when the state closed country schools and bused students into town. We sat on Mrs. X's stoop and I read her stacks of Golden books, which she brought home from school in the summer, while she and my mother talked and my hair dried after a wash. Very pleasant scenes.
Later, I subscribed to The Weekly Reader, and we ordered books from its book club. Curious George, Homer Price, Little Witch, On Your Toes, Susie, The Kid Who Batted 1,000...wonderful books. It was so exciting when the order arrived at school, our teacher ripped the box open, and called us up to the desk to distribute books.
What a good beginning. Of course I went on to Louisa May Alcott, E. Nesbit, and Beany Malone, and then begged books from bookstores for Christmas.
Later there was the bicycling with books in my baskets to parks where I'd read Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf, D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, and Jane Austen.
Bicycling and books: essential parts of life.