21 October 2018

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: The Importance of Reading; An Appreciation of King & Poe

I have to let you all know that my grandmother is a -really- bad influence.  She started me off at an early age, and I’ve never been able to get over it.

Ma saved Eagle Stamps from the grocery store.  She got so many stamps, depending on how much she spent for groceries, then licked them and stuck ‘em in a little book.  You could trade them in for whatever you wanted on the list when you got enough stamps.

Ma got me books with the Eagle Stamps, and I got hooked on reading.

When I say hooked I mean I’m “compulsive,” “obsessive,” and have a “voracious” appetite for reading.  

Ma started me off with Samuel Langhorn Clemens (also known as Mark Twain) who wrote Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper and many more.  Then she moved me up to Black Beauty.  My fun really began with Edgar Allen Poe.

Ma got me my first Poe book.  It has the “Folgers” coffee logo on the cover and it’s read to tatters.  It’s still on my bookshelf, and pages will fall out when you try to read it.  Hold on tight and never dog-ear a page.  Toilet paper is the only acceptable bookmark allowed in this house.

Then she got me a Shephen King book.  Oops.  King’s wife might be his biggest fan, but I’m in the run for second place.  

I’m a very sloppy reader.  Intentionally.  A toilet without a magazine on the back is naked, and our kitchen table stays littered with reading material.  National Geographic, Newton Citizen, TIME magazine, the Smithsonian…  Leave it where they can grab it and they –will- read it.

We went through a time that I thought my grandmother was mad at me.  I didn’t get my National Geographic’s anymore!  Turns out my oldest son, Thing 1, was jacking them out of the mailbox.  I would get them, eventually.  They would be a couple months out of date, but I really couldn’t complain.  My child was reading.  That’s a good thing!

Then I got a call from the high school.  Thing 1 had an English assignment.  Bless his teacher’s heart…

The teacher started it with “It was a dark and stormy night” on the board and told the kids to write from that, with the admonition that they should not be graphic.

My oldest was raised on Poe and King.  Let that sink in for a minute.

His teacher was disturbed, to say the least, and he got sent to the counselor’s office before I had a clue what was going on.  Then I got the call from his teacher – and laughed.

The teacher now thought that we were both bonkers, but when she started reading passages from his essay I couldn’t help but laugh even more.  I could quote each and every author and story that he’d gotten his ideas from.  Every single one.

By the time we got off the phone, his teacher was thanking me for getting a teenage boy to read, and we didn’t have to deal with DFACS.  Thankfully.

Folks, leave your newspapers, magazines and books lying around.  It’s one of the best things you can do for the kids.  They –will- pick them up and read.

Oh, and leave the Chronicles on top!  


A jack of all trades, Ms. Tuggle has been a Covington resident since the late 70’s. She's been a K-Mart cashier, cabinet builder, vet tech, office manager for a beef cattle ranch and water well company (where she was able to hold benefits for D.A.R.E. and Scouts), a court reporter, business manager, assistant at a private investigation firm, legal assistant, convenience store clerk, landscaper and elementary school substitute teacher.  Her greatest pleasure is being a wife, mother and grandmother.  Her stories are all real, and all names will be withheld to protect the innocent, and also maybe the guilty, depending on the crime & the Statute of Limitations.  


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