Weatherford Democrat

Columns

May 9, 2014

NOTES FROM THE JOURNEY: A mother who read to me

By JOHN PAUL CARTER

The floor-to-ceiling bookcases in our master-bedroom are running over with volumes of Texana (both history and fiction) – the result of my earlier unchecked appetite for just one more book about Texas. As if that were not enough, every other room in our house also has its share of my collection.

Henry Ward Beecher believed that it was the duty of parents to surround their children with books. “A home without books,” he wrote, “is like a room without windows.” By that standard I’ve been living for most of my life in houses with more windows than walls.

Depending on how you look at it, I have my mother to blame or thank for my love of books. Some of my earliest memories are of her reading to me from the Bible and a ten volume set of children’s stories entitled “My Book House.” Even now when I thumb through those familiar pages, I am filled with wonder and a sense of her presence.

When I was ten years old, my mother was employed by the Baptist Book Store in Dallas to establish and promote libraries in Texas churches. For the next 20 years, books and reading were her passion. Because I was an only child and my father traveled, I assumed the role of her assistant and traveling companion. That’s how reading became my pastime and books my playmates and friends.

What an enriching and diverse group of companions have been mine over the years through reading: Humpty Dumpty, Casey Jones, Pecos Bill, The Hardy Boys, David, Luke, John Bunyan, Henri Nouwen, Kahlil Gibran, Robert Frost, J. Frank Dobie, John Steinbeck, and Wendell Berry - to mention just a few! Even now late at night, I stop by our book cases to make new friends and renew old acquaintances. And when we travel, I always take a satchel full of books.

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