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4/6/10

Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree


(My hair courtesy of Mom's "tomorrow-is-picture-day-just-let-me-trim-your-bangs-a-little" handiwork.)

My father and I have/had very similar personalities.
We also looked the same - note the goofy smile, the dreamy far-away look, the long face, the ears. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the words every little girl longs to hear,
"Why, don't you look just like your father!"

In spite of looking alike and having the basically the same personality - or perhaps because of it, we bugged the crap out of each other, especially when I was a teenager. Except reading, that was common ground. Reading seemed magical to me and I learned at around three.
By second grade, while others were plodding through Dick and Jane, I was reading "Black Beauty".

My father was a sucker for an encyclopedia; in addition to the ever popular Britannica, we had medical, animal, art, gardening, and biblical. I'm pretty sure we were on the "that guy will buy anything!" list. We also owned every hard cover National Geographic book ever published, in addition to getting the magazine subscription for decades.

I received books for all major present giving holidays and illnesses. You never got trouble for reading in my house - unless it was a comic book (or at the table). My dad thought comic books were "noneducational", he had an irrational dislike for them and they were not allowed in the house.
This rule was so adamantly enforced I actually thought I was dying when he gave me four comics during my measles episode (105.5 temp). There could be no other reason he let me have them! Still remember what they were - two Richie Rich, a Baby Huey and Little Lulu.
Of course that rule was totally out the window by the time my siblings were reading and they both had comic books galore. Brats.

In 1968 we moved from Miami, FL to Kodiak, Alaska and were TV-less for two years. Something about the TV putting us over two thousand pounds (the limit the CG would move). Right. (Not that it mattered much, there was only one channel that was on less than 24 hours a day. Taped Christmas specials came around New Year's.)

My dad and I were regulars at the library during those years. We would come home with a stack of books and read two or three at a time. Back then I could easily read a book a day, even during the school year. The librarian (wish I remembered her name) would put aside books for my dad, sister, and I according to our interests. She told me about Frank L. Baum writing more than "The Wizard of Oz" and the Tolkien trilogy, which I thought was the best thing since sliced bread; I read it in three days and then started them all over again. We read books on Africa, Australia, nature, every Zane Gray novel ever written, science fiction, interspersed with fairy tales, Egyptology, and Norse gods.

In a way we also bonded over music, even though my dad made fun of my musical choices. He was into equipment, we always had a nice stereo system - JVC turntable, Akai reel-to-reel tape player. I had my own stereo and headphones (that way he didn't have to hear any Black Sabbath). He showed us all the correct way to handle an album, how to thread the tape on the reel to reel. (Later in life I was a waitress at a barbecue restaurant; the owner had an amazing collection of Motown, blues, and jazz on reel to reel tapes. I was the only one who knew how to work the thing.).

My father believed in taking care of things, there were certain things you DID NOT DO. Like laying a book down with the pages open (breaks the spine - use a BOOKMARK!); touching the record (LP) (handle it on the edges); not putting things away in the proper place - if Herb Albert was in the Mills Brothers album cover, there would be hell to pay!

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