Thursday, March 23, 2006

Reading is FUNDamental

Book Fair time in Hillbillyville! Read all about it! Book Fair time in
Hillbillyville! Which means my children have been nickel-and-diming
me. Actually, they have been ten-and-twentying me. Book Fair isn't
cheap. This morning my 8-year-old asked me for $20. For two
books. He knew the titles he wanted, and how much they cost.

Back in the day, we didn't have Book Fair. We had Scholastic
Book Orders. The books didn't cost much...50 or 75 cents. Yeah.
That's how old I am. The day the book orders arrived was the best
day ever, with the day the new order forms were given out a close
second. I was always allowed to get 2 or 3 books. We weren't
rich. We lived in a trailer. My allowance was 50 cents every two
weeks, which was how my Hillbilly Daddy got paid. Not the 50
cents part--the two weeks part. He was a lineman for SW Bell
Telephone. One time, he came to the park in the middle of the
day, his shirt shredded and bloody. His climbers had slipped out
of the wood of an often-climbed telephone pole, and he slid down
it like a fire pole. Not recommended. I had to get off my springy
red chicken riding toy so we could take him to the hospital. I'm not
sure what kind of witch-doctory-medicine-man he saw, but the
cure for what ailed him seemed to be lying in MY bed in the back
of the trailer for a week with no shirt, and bacon strips on his chest
and belly to draw out the splinters. I'm kinda thinkin' we might
have tried to save money by going to some quack. point is that we didn't have a lot of money, but I
always had money for books. I LOVE BOOKS. My Hillbilly
Mama has said we were so poor that if my sister or I begged
for a Suzy Q in the grocery store, she had to say no. There was
no money to spare, and it made her cry that she couldn't even
buy her child a snack cake. I don't remember going cakeless,
but I do remember getting commodity cheese and peanut butter.
Hey! Redneck Diva, Mrs. Coach! FREE CHEESE! Not exactly
a Suzy Q, but the Piggly Wiggly store had a lady giving out free
potato chip samples. We must have really looked poor, because
that lady called me back and gave me another chip, and it was
the good kind, the folded-over kind with about 3 others folded
inside it. Either that, or I was just so hungry that I remember
that chip. I was 5 years old.

I read all the time. Night time, going out for an A & W Root Beer
Float with the grandparents? Didn't stop me! I took my Scholastic
book and crawled up into the flat spot under the back windshield
of the car, reading as we passed under streetlights. Seatbelts?
Nobody wore those sissy things back then. Carseats? WTF?
Kids rode standing on that hump on the back floor, looking
over the seat. Or they just stood up in the front seat. Who needs
a seatbelt when your mom can fling out her arm to stop you every
time she hits the brake?

My grandma next door had a whole room in her basement filled
with shelves of books. I'd go in there and leaf through random
titles. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Visits
to my other grandma's house were not so intellectually stimulating.
Sure, it was fun to feed the hogs, fish in the pond, dig potatoes,
throw hedgeapples down the sinkhole, ride the pony, pick corn,
shake persimmons out of the tree, crank homemade ice cream,
and sleep outside. But in the winter, or if it rained, I was bored
to tears. This was the time of no cable or satellite TV. Four
channels, people! Nothing to read. I take that back. Sometimes
there was the First Baptist Church Newsletter, or an agriculture
magazine. But they were few and far between.

In the summer, my Hillbilly Mama took my sister and me to the
town library. It was over the fire station, which did not impress
me at all. What did was a whole room full of books, with a
section just for kids! I could check out two books, and keep
them two weeks. Of course I read them before the two weeks
were over. I loved the Trixie Belden, Annette, and Nancy Drew
series. Library day was even better than the skating rink!

So I am a sucker for a kid wanting a book, and I gave my boy
the $20 for Secret Codes for Handhelds, and Revenge of the
Shadow King. He was pleased as punch, and proud to tell me
"And I even got a dollar back!" The 11-year-old bought three
books for $15. He demanded that the volunteer workers grant
him immunity from sales tax, because "My mom is a teacher,
and they don't have to pay tax." My goodness! How times have
changed! Even the Scholastic books are $3 or $4 now. But
I will not deny my boys books.

When I am old and in a nursing home, I want people taking
care of me who know how to read the directions on my drugs.


Blogger Redneck Diva said...

My kids were getting the Scholastic orders until Christmas and they've now suddenly stopped. I got as excited as they did! I remember those 50 and 75 cent books, too. And now, when my kids bring home the order forms and there's a special on the front for a 97 center - hoo doggies!! I buy up a bunch for Christmas and birthday presents. Obviously every other mother does as well because at the school party there are always those unlucky kids who have to give and get the 97 cent books, lol. When Sam was in Kindergarten he gave 3 of those 97 centers as his gift and the kid who got it threw it on the ground, stomped on it and said, "I already GOT these when my MOM ordered the STUPID THINGS!!" Grr...I really don't like that kid still.

We got free cheese and peanut butter as kids, too. I'm just keeping the cycle going.

I also remember going from Oklahoma to Nebraska and NOT ONCE wearing a seatbelt. We spent most of the time in the floorboards or in the back window. My gosh, put that together with the wide slats on our baby beds and baby aspirin and it's a wonder we're here at all today.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Daren said...

I remember the Scholastic books too. The excitement that it was Book Fair Day. Wheee! They weren't fifty cents, I think they were like a buck. Still. Hell of a deal!

4:52 AM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

At Christmas, #2 son's class HAS TO bring a book. That's the only gift allowed.

You're right. How did we survive? No bike helmets, no sunscreen, no Deep Woods Off, no bottled water, no GermX, no Diaper Genies, no electronic learning toys... Maybe that's what's wrong with us!

Gotta love the books. And the bargains!

8:11 PM  
Blogger Chickadee said...

Ahhh, Scholastic Book orders. Yes, that was my favorite time too, receiving those order forms. I read that order form from cover to cover and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, got a book. I also liked bookmobile days. I was always the last to leave the bookmobile.

I still enjoy reading, though I don't read nearly as much or as often as I should.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

We never had the bookmobile. I find time for reading at school, before it starts, and during my plan time. Because I can't plan for Do-Nots. I have to seize whatever opportunity presents itself.

12:41 PM  

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