The Greatest Story Never Told!

I think this is a great day to write a blog.  Imagine rain and thunder and lightning in Arizona!  I went to a conference on writing skills at Central Arizona College on Thursday with my friend Socorro.  It is amazing how much one can learn about writing no matter how much one thinks they know.  I have been suffering from “writers block” for the past week or perhaps “lack of writing time” and this workshop motivated me to get my butt on the keyboard.  There is no writing without some form of sitting time.  With a day of rain and storms, there is little I can use in the form of an excuse to not write this blog.  Besides, I was inspired by my dead grandfather last night to tell this story.  It is the story that he never told me.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this story and deciding it needed telling.

Now if he never told me this story, you may be wondering how I can write it.  Simple, I will make it up.  See, my grandfather never did tell me any stories, at least none that I remember.  In fact, I don’t remember anyone telling me stories when I grew up.  My father never told stories, my mother never told stories and I never listened to my teachers so I don’t have any stories from them.  And yet today, I seem to always have a story to tell that fits the occasion, whether I am speaking, teaching or writing.  I love stories.  Where do I get my stories?  My stories come from many sources including other people, events, dreams, mistakes, stupidity, idiots and geniuses.  I use stories from: Socrates, Uncle Remus, Aesop, Kant, Einstein, Deming, and of course myself.  I am a neophyte in the art of story-telling and the truly great story tellers are a continuing inspiration to my writings.

So what is the greatest story ever told?  Or perhaps, I should say what is the greatest story “Never told.”  Some of course, would say that the greatest story ever told is a religious one and concerns the coming of their deity or prophet or god.  Jesus Christ is often noted as the “Greatest Story Ever Told” and since there are so many religious or at least spiritual people out there; it would be foolish for me to argue or promote my own “greatest story” against such opinions.  But that does leave the “Greatest Story Never Told” as the one I can talk about. In fact, I think this is the one my Grandfather never told me.

Once upon a time (all good stories start out with this line, as I am sure you know) there was a little girl who lived in Kansas and had a dog named Toto.  “Ooops, sorry, I forgot that story has been taken.  Okay, let’s try this one.”  Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Harry Potter who (Dam, that story has also been taken). “I will start again.” Once upon a time there was a place called the Shire wherein dwelt a group of beings known as hobbits.  “Oh!  You really think Tolkien would mind if I expropriated his stories?”  Darn, this is going to be more difficult than I thought.  All the good stories have been told already.  Are there no stories that are waiting to be told?  Would you settle for how I came to love reading and libaries?  Well, this may not be a great story but I can assure you it has never been put in print before.

The story goes like this:

Once upon a time, there lived a shy introverted fearful little boy (that’s me) who had a big bad mean old father.  My dad stood 6’4” tall and was a former professional boxer.  His rule was law and you did not ever ever ever talked back to my dad.  My father ruled the house with fear and intimidation.  He was very competitive and did not like to be beat at anything but especially cards.  My father’s rule was “Kids should be seen and not heard and most of the time, they shouldn’t be seen.”  It was scary to ask my father for anything, because you never knew how he would respond.  I quickly learned that if I wanted anything, I would ask my mother who would then somehow broach the subject with my dad.  It was a little like going into the lion’s den.  My father might be stormy or tranquil depending on his mood. His mood would depend more on how he did at cards or the horses then on how the weather was doing.   Thus, one day when I was quite young and first starting out in school, I noticed that other kids could do their homework at home because they had encyclopedias.

Since my father seemed to put great store in my grades and how I was doing at school, I naturally reasoned that he would want to provide me with resources to insure my success.  Of course, knowing my father, this was not a sure assumption.  Thus, I made the pitch to my mom and asked her if I could get a set of encyclopedias to help me with my schoolwork.  My mom thought this was a reasonable, if not expensive request and agreed to ask my father about the proposition.  His reply was delivered to me directly. It was not hard for him to figure out who made the request, since I was the oldest child and my mother never read.  I still remember his response.  It went like this:  “What the hell do you think libraries are for anyway.  Get off your lazy butt and go get a library card.”  Thinking this was prudent advice to follow, I trudged down to the local library.  When I entered the library, I remember it as perhaps the greatest moment of my entire life.  Books on shelves, books on the floor, books hanging from the ceilings, books on display on walls, more books than I had ever thought existed.

A kindly old librarian helped me to get a library card (back then, you did not need a passport, driver’s license, patriot disclosure form AND birth certificate to get a card).  I was like a kid in a candy store. I could not hold all the books I wanted to take home. Finally, I worked my way around to the encyclopedias.  I could not believe it, there before my eyes were the World Book and OH MY GOD,! the “Encyclopedia Britannica.”  The Britannica was the Rolls Royce and Rolex of encyclopedias all rolled up in 20 or so volumes.  It was well known that it contained all the knowledge known to mankind from the Pharaohs on up to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with monthly updates for new wisdom.  I could not have been happier if I had died and gone to paradise.  Unfortunately, you could not take reference materials home.  Nevertheless, my love affair with libraries started at this moment.

I love libraries more than football fields, baseball fields, basketball courts or hockey stadiums. I would give up all the sports in the world to support one library.  I cannot think of a more useful development for humans than the establishment of a library. I revile the Spanish for destroying the libraries of the Incas and I would hold out capital punishment solely for anyone desecrating a library.  If I were president, the highest priority on my budget would be for libraries. I would cut military and defense spending by ½ tomorrow and allocate the money to libraries. I would include foreign aide to build libraries in every country in the world that lacks the funds to do so.

Okay, I digress. So you know I love libraries, books and am a very curious person.  There is more to the story though.  You may or may not remember that there were three levels of encyclopedias:  Very Expensive, Britannica; Expensive, World Book and Cheap, Funk and Wagnall.  My mom knew I could not take reference books home and she still felt bad for me.  She decided on her own that she would somehow get a set of encyclopedias for me.  You may remember the old S&H Green Stamps?  Well, I gather our local grocery store had some sort of promotion wherein for X amount of money spent you received some stamps. My mother assiduously saved these stamps and one by one using the stamps saved she collected an entire set of Funk and Wagnall encyclopedias for me.  I never learned how my father felt about this contribution but I will never forget how grateful I was (even though I still longed for a Britannica) for my mother’s compassion and thoughtfulness for my needs.     

End of Story.

So that Dear Readers is the “Story my Grandfather Never Told Me” and perhaps for me, it is the “Greatest Story Never Told.” I wish I could say that I always treated my mom with the respect she deserved or that I did not often take out my latent hostility towards my father on her but that would of course be a lie.  My father died at the age of 60 and my mom died at the age of 67.  I long ago realized that they had their own demons to deal with and if perhaps they were not always the perfect parents, I sincerely believe they both tried their best and only wanted the best for me.  Another story never told.

Ok, time for questions:

Do you have a library card? Are you a Friend of the Library?  Do you use your local library?  Do you enjoy reading? If not, why not?  Do you help insure that your town has enough funds to support the library? Would you rather go to a football game then your local library?  Have you ever been to a library?  If not, when will you go for a visit?

Life is just beginning.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elmo
    Mar 08, 2014 @ 06:06:16

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum
    it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly
    enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m
    still new to the whole thing. Do you have any points for rookie blog writers?
    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    Reply

  2. Linette
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 15:56:40

    This excellent website truly has all the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to
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    Reply

  3. Lynwood
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 18:35:48

    Appreciating the persistence you put into your
    blog and in depth information you present. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once
    in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed material.
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    Reply

  4. johnpersico
    May 10, 2016 @ 13:00:43

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I want to share this blog again as it deals with my Mother and it seems fitting to post this story on Mothers Day or at least the week of Mothers Day. Consider it a story for all Moms who are not appreciated when they are alive but deeply appreciated when it is too late to let them know.

    Reply

  5. Jeanine
    May 11, 2016 @ 01:27:14

    Your story touched me as it was so typical of our mother. I remember those encyclopedias!!! I used them for my school research as well.
    I do have a library card and I am presently taking a free Spanish course offered by our library. I have a passion for reading and I love to go to the library. I thought it was quite a coincidence to be reading this particular blog tonight because earlier in the day I went to the library to study. It is the best place to get away from any and all distractions. I can honestly say that I would rather go there than any sports venue. Loved this blog!!!

    Reply

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