Paula Damon

“I never feel lonely if I've got a book – they're like old friends. Even if you're not reading them over and over again, you know they are there. And they're part of your history. They…tell a story about your journey through life.”Emilia Fox, American actress

Wish I could remember the first book that was ever read to me. Or the first one I read myself.

I do recall my very first library visit.

Browsing aisle after aisle lined with fabric and leather bindings, instantaneously put me on an anatomical journey to the stories of humankind.

It was there in that tiny storefront right off Main Street in Phillipsburg, PA, where I fell in love. Like a first kiss, it was a soft and tender moment.

Taking in the sweet elixir of this new world, which enveloped every fiber of my being.

Rich wood pulp incense created by thousands of pages filled the air, along with a slight co-mingling of musty leather.

On my tip-toes, I reached for a blood-red spine with cream-colored lettering and cameo bust of a woman.

While thumbing through the pages, I could see loosened loops of threads that had been stitched together, as was the bookbinding practice in those bygone days.

Wish I could say that’s when I became an avid reader, but I cannot.

Later, while voyaging the high choppy seas of elementary school, I became enamored by “Fun with Dick and Jane,” a series of beginner’s texts.

Based on reading ability, the program was divided into three levels: Bluebirds, Robins and Sparrows.

As a sparrow with delayed reading abilities, I longed to advance and join the glory land of Bluebirds. How grand that would have been.

To the best of my memory, I never graduated from Sparrows to Robins or Bluebirds.

Even so, I didn’t lose my love for written words assembled on a page, where they teach and taunt, yell and scream, grin and grimace, jump and jaunt and sometimes stretch and yawn.

American novelist, author of the bestselling Mitford novels, once said, “As long as you have any floor space at all, you have room for books! Just make two stacks of books the same height, place them three or four feet apart, lay a board across them and repeat. Viola! Bookshelves!”

I like that notion. It jogs my memory of the very first piece of furniture my husband and I purchased after our daughter was born.

A small solid pine bookshelf. Free-standing and unfinished, it had only three shelves. (We couldn’t afford the one with four.)

After applying stain, we placed children’s books on the lower level and some of our own, mostly college textbooks, on the upper one.

We held onto that bookshelf for many years and eventually parted with it.

I wonder if it still exists today. Living a second or maybe third incarnation. In someone’s home, a day care or maybe even in a library.

Wouldn’t that be grand!

Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email boscodamon.paula@gmail.com.

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