|My handsome dad|
I knew the hardware store man and the donut shop old lady by name, I went there so often with my dad. He was constructing a family room addition to our house, and doing all the work in his spare time. He was a machinist by occupation but he loved building things too. He built and layed all the brick for my parent's beautiful floor to ceiling fireplace. (very 60s mid-century modern). I distinctly remember putting each and every off-white brick into this tin bucket of water, watching it bubble while it soaked, and waiting till my dad was ready to place it on one of the many tiers of that brick wall. Then when he was ready he'd grab it out of the bucket, give me a little nod, and I would go over and pick up another heavy brick and we'd repeat the process. We listened to the Dodgers games on the radio. (Sandy Kofax was all the rage at the time, pitching no hitters) I would watch dad, mesmerized as this huge, beautiful, white-brick wall and marble hearth of our home came to life.
He and I took long walks around parks, high school tracks, and the 3 surrounding cities' libraries. I had a library card to all of them. Every 2 weeks we'd visit a different library to check out books while he'd leisurely trek the walking path, getting in his 2 miles. My very favorite was the Redondo Beach Library.
The musty, old book smell as you walked downstairs to the children's section, I can still recall. The whole back wall of that library was window, and you could look across the street and watch the waves on the beach crash as you sat in a window seat or at a little kiddie desk and peruse the pile of books to make the selections for the week. I loved all the Nancy Drew series, the 3 Investigators, all the Hardy Boys mysteries. If it was about kids who were into detective work, I devoured every book. Beverly Cleary books were in my arsenal too as well as non-fiction books about animals and how-to books on crafts or experiments. I think those visits gave birth to my love of science in the books either from the Bookmobile that came around to my private school, or else those nights at the Redondo Beach Library. I would bring home a huge stack every few weeks, and then anxiously waiting for the school day to end, so I could go lay on my chenille pink-and-white ballerina bedspread, in fantasy heaven, reading all my favorite authors.
Now, as an adult, I'm a teacher, and I get to read some of my favorite books to my students for a living. How lucky is that! We are just starting one I remember a 4th grade teacher of mine reading to us: Mr. Popper's Penguins. I loved that book and I still get all choked up and teary as he says goodbye at the end to his beloved pets; the penguins he brought to fame. We are doing a very fun unit on Penguins too because, hey, they are just so darned cute, why the heck not? Black and white art projects are so eye catching for a bulletin board too,
So as I think about dates nights I have spent with my husband, it is no wonder I still go back to a happy place from my childhood, a huge room full of delightful books. After hitting the early hour at Pei Wei for some Teriyaki Chicken (half rice, half noodles, with pea pods added and extra teriyaki sauce) we always go over to Barnes and Noble at the Southtowne Mall. Me, being the cheapskate that I am, don't always buy a book unless it is for my little first grade peeps. I just grab a dozen to peruse in one of their big, beefy chairs, and read a few chapters of each. Anything I really like I make my husband (who is over in the next chair perusing computer and business books) look them up on Amazon on his Droid to see if I can get them for less. He actually ordered one for me right on the spot that we found for $28.00 at Barnes and only $2.65 plus shipping on Amazon. It's one of the latest by Maria Bartaromo, The 10 Laws of Enduring Success. I love her writing style. She is very interesting being in the journalism and money fields since graduating NYU in the 80s, mostly working for CNN when they were new.
I picked up another book from my pile and as I looked over at my husband, he was reading the same book. It was a green and black business book that caught my eye, Crush IT "Don't bother buying this," he says, "It's already on my Nook" Okay! Good to know. I guess old married people really think along the same lines. I read through about 5 books, reading a couple chapters of each. One on the secrets of longevity (how people live to be 100 or something like that) and another one my husband dropped in my lap called Skinny Bitch. I know he didn't mean anything by it because I'm really not very skinny. :) The funny thing was they both were about the same basic 8 chapters: diets consisting of: eat lots of fruits, vegetables, tons of water, beans and grains and disgusting stuff like soy and tofu and why we need to walk a lot. Oh and no sugar. NO SUGAR? Drag. One was definitely more entertaining than the other.
My last book I took off the "New Arrivals" was Rosanne's new hilariously irreverent rant and I had to stop after a few uncontrollable belly laughs caused raised eyebrows from a few of the other patrons, and so I put it back on the table too. She has always made me laugh but she's also a little too raw for my taste. And boy she has an opinion on everything and everybody. But I took a phone picture of her recipe for homemade noodles from her Russian Jewish grandma. She says they are the best on earth. And I love homemade chicken noodle soup. So we shall see.
I usually will find something I like and take it home as a little party favor for the evening. Then we go get some ice cream to top off the night: A McDonald's hot fudge sundae or John's favorite, an apple pie. Sometimes we get a Redbox if it is not too late. It's fun to get our pillows off our bed and drag a quilt or two and the dog down to the basement and I set it all up on the bigscreen while John pops the popcorn. I grab cokes out of the mini fridge down there and we settle in. Greatest date night on earth. mmmmhmmmm.
Thanks pops, wherever you are, for my love of reading. And thanks for taking all that time listening to my tiresome babble and walking around and waitin' while I was the kid in a candy store at the old Redondo Beach, California Library. I love you man....