Friday, November 25, 2016

The First Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving yesterday. It was the first time I hosted a large family event in my home since moving to Fort Collins. I was amazed at how my house accommodated the group. The too small kitchen seemed to swell to include all the women who had their fingers in various pies. There was even room for the essential pitch table in the living room.

I have a large leather sectional that is just right for viewing movies. A large arched three-shaded lamp provides plenty of light for those who want to knit or do needlework.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. This autumn has been one of the most spectacular I've seen. The weather has been gorgeous and the country is slowly emerging from the wounds afflicted during the recent election.

Thanksgiving is the source of one my happiest memories. I was introduced to reading through a little book about Thanksgiving. The title was Hoot Owl.

I wanted to learn to read more than anything in the world. We were in a tiny school where three grades were together in one room. No pre-school or kindergarten. No TV, Sesame Street, or clever toys. My mother read stories sometimes out of the old Book of Knowledge. We were simply jump-started into first grade.

I thought reading was a trick or a revelation. I emulated a third grade boy I especially admired. I sat exactly as he did, held my head at the same angle, frowned like he did. But I couldn't read. Then one day the teacher told us about the alphabet and that the alphabet formed words and the words then became sentences and sentences were the basis of stories. I was swept with a wave of white-hot fury that it was that simple and everyone had withheld it from me.

The alphabet and everything connected with it became an obsession. And then came one of the most joyful days of my life. After the class had endured yet another fumble-through with Dick, Jane, Spot, and that damned ball and I was out of anything to do, the teacher told me I could choose a book to read.

And I could! I could actually read. And these books all had plots.

 The first book I ever read on my own was Hoot Owl. It was about a little pioneer boy who got lost in the woods. Just when everything seemed the darkest and he despaired of ever making it back to his colony he was befriended by a little Indian boy, Hoot Owl, who took him to his stern, but kindly Chief. A group of Indians guided Hoot Owl back to his anxious parents who, along with other welcoming colonists, were preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Naturally, the grateful colonists invited the Indians to share their meal. It was the first Thanksgiving and everyone lived happily ever after.

There now. Wasn't that wonderful? The shelves were full of similar books and I was off and running.


Irene Bennett Brown said...

A beautiful description of learning to read and loving it, Charlotte, just beautiful.

Unknown said...

They play pitch at your house? I'm so jealous! Love that game of cards and don't get a chance to play much anymore. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you have many more. Thank you for the story about learning to read.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Mary Jane we're fiends for the game and even count for game. Thanks for the comment.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Irene, I've often wondered what the Indians version of the story would be. Anyway, I was off and running and now ONLY want to read. Next to a cozy fire.