Tuesday, April 15, 2014

World Book Encyclopedia, Robert Frost, and more..

     When I was growing up we had the complete set of the World Book Encyclopedia in the green and white cover edition, the expensive ones that were nicer than the set in the school library.  We had them because my father was bamboozled by an encyclopedia salesman and his assistant who sold door to door and found us on our farm outside the tiny village of Varysburg. 
     As an immigrant family, we were an easy mark.  The salesman handed a volume to me, saying, "She's too young; she can't read that."  Of course I read- I was the one in my second grade class who was called on to read when the principal visisted; I was the one who memorized complicated poems and scoffed at the kids who chose the easy two liners about bears.  I  didn't stop reading.
     So the sale was complete.   The volumes stood on top of a dresser upstairs, updated each year with a yearbook that was a jumble of information and rarely touched.  For years my favorite volume was E because of Egypt.  I loved the drawings of the straight haired Egyptians and the hieroglyphics of birds and shapes.  I preferred them to the entry of Rome for in my mind those were apparently the only two choices of civilizations. 
     Other books entered the house.  We had a National Geographic collection of countries of the world that came in a magazine like format complete with stamps you stuck onto the pages.  These books were always of unknown African countries like Gabon.  I suspect we were waiting for the volume about Latvia which never came.
      Then there was the four volume set of medical encyclopedias that I pored over and found  fascinating information like how long a hospital stay was required for a hysterectomy.  I learned all the skin diseases since there were pictures and I could dazzle the science teachers with obscure medical information.
      My uncle whose English language abilities were limited brought us books too.  He chose books by size and he got them from a used book store in Buffalo.  He brought us "The Selected Letters of Robert Frost" which at that point in my life was the dullest book I'd ever seen and "My Secret Life".  Luckily no one else in the household suspected what it was about.  So I could say I had a well-rounded education. 

No comments:

Post a Comment