Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

A Bookstore On a Rainy Afternoon

It was a cool and damp summer day in Seattle, and with not much to do I found myself wandering into Elliott Bay Books in Pioneer Square -- the last of the traditional old (i.e. non Barnes and Noble) bookstores.  It's a wonderful place to spend a damp Sunday afternoon, strolling among the stacks and sipping coffee.  I happened upon the children's book section, and wandered in.  I still love children's books, even at 47 years old, although most of the new ones are not nearly as good ("Barney The Dog Who Farted Too Much"? -- really now!) They made me smile then, and still do to this day, and generally have great artwork. 

I've always loved reading -- and perhaps it's why I love to write as well.  I was very fortunate that my Mother read to me at an early age -- holding me on her lap and reading into my ear.  This was long before we found out I was born with a congenital hearing defect, and it was because of her reading to me in her lap, talking directly into my ear as Mother's tend to do when holding a child, that I can speak at all.  Most kids who are very hard of hearing grow up with a speech impediment because they don't hear things at a young age.  Even though I could hardly hear -- I was able to hear speaking because my Mother loved to read, and read wonderful children's books to me.  It's also why I was able to learn to read as young as I did -- so young in fact it made the newspaer and drove my elemenatary teachers insane as I was grades ahead of everyone else.
According to the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, March 3, 1963 story that this photo was taken from "happiness is having a two-year old son who can read.  Mrs. George Gardner is pleased with the progress of son Gary who has "letters, numbers and small words whipped.""  (Got to love that Beehive hairdo Mom has, and the fact she has no first name -- just "Mrs. George Gardner" but I digress -- and by the way her name is Carol.)

I still remember the books Mom read to me and I saw sitting out of place, misfiled in front of a stack of Dog Farting books in the stacks of the children's section of Elliott Bay, sitting somewhat lost and forlorn, was a copy of "The Little House - Her Story" by Virgina Lee Burton, first published in 1942.  This was one of the books Mom read to me -- and it was still in print much to my surprise.  So I sat down and started thumbing through it (it's a wonder someone didn't call security -- a large bearded 47 year old man sitting by himself in the children's book section -- a perfect story for Nancy Grace!).  If you've never read it, it's a story about a little house in the country, that over time has the city grow up around it and becomes lost, and is then rescued by the great great great grand daughter of the original owner, and moved back out into the country where she is happy again.  Early in the book as a road is being built by her, there is a shovel working on the road.  Closer inspection revealed it was Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne, from the book "Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel", by the same author and first published in 1939.  Well I had to dig around and found that one too since it was probably my favorite book at the time.  So like a happy little five year old I sat there and read both, and I'll be honest and say I got a bit misty eyed remembering reading them as a kid.  And like Henry B. Swap, the selectman in  Mike Mulligan, smiled in a "not so mean way."
And then I found "Make Way For Ducklings", and "Where the WIld things Are", and before I knew it an hour had slipped by.  So I bought Mike Mulligan and Little House (which I think was part of the inspiration for the new Disney move "UP" as well) and sat in my big leather reading chair in the living room and re-read them tonite.  It was a pleasant diversion from the biography of William Wallace I'm working on now, reading about the goings on in Popperville and watching with the Little House, the kids going off to school.  Sometimes its fun to sit and read something simple and sweet and pretend to be a kid again.


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