Monday, March 5, 2012

Childhood Memory - Reading.....

I have lots of childhood memories, but this one struck me as I was glancing through some blogs in my reader just a few minutes ago.

I have always loved books and reading. I don't remember a time when I DIDN'T love to read. Books, magazines, the backs of cereal boxes, you name it and I read it. I actually liked going to the doctor's or dentist's office so I could read Highlights magazine. I've blogged before about my mother's obsession with Reader's Digest and how we weren't supposed to take the brown wrapping off before she got home, but I always tried it anyway because I didn't want to wait.

And now I promise I'm getting to the memory part.

My grandmother worked in the book sections of a couple of department stores when I was young. There were occasions when I remember being with her during her workday, but I'm not sure why. I know my mother worked nearby, and perhaps I was at work with her and got sent off to see Grandmother.

My grandmother wasn't the cuddly, doting kind of grandmother. In fact, she was rather stern and critical of all of us. It took us until we were grown (and possibly some therapy for some of us) to realize that Grandmother was stern TOWARD us, but to our cousins she sang our praises, thereby causing them to hate our guts. And we theirs.

I tell you all that by way of explaining that being sent off to spend time with Grandmother at her job would NOT have been something proffered as a reward. More likely it was a punishment, or Grandmother drew the short straw and got stuck with the brat.

I, however, loved it. Not because I got to spend time with Grandmother, necessarily, but I got to spend hours and hours with books.

The department store where I remember Grandmother working most had three floors. At that time it still had an elevator operator, a black woman whose job it was to shift the lever from left to middle to right to middle to left to middle to right and over and over and over again, going from floor to floor. Up and down, all day long. I would get a book from Grandmother's book department and get in the elevator. I remember sitting in the corner, reading a book as the elevator went up and down. And up and down. And up and... Oh hell, you know what an elevator does. When I finished a book, I would wait until we were back on the first floor, and I would go get another one.

I would love to know just how much time I spent reading in the elevator at that old department store. It seems that I did it on more than one occasion, but it's unlikely that I did it every Saturday or anything extreme like that. It also seems that I spent entire days riding the elevator and reading books, but it may have been a matter of hours. Or even minutes. Children have no concept of time, after all.

Regardless, reading books in the elevator remains one of my most pleasant childhood memories.

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