Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Look it up!
Kyle's always asking me how to spell words. "Mom, how to you spell subconscious? How about articulate? What does symmetry mean?" Sometimes he wants to know, and sometimes he's just testing me. We do this with old country songs, too, but he's as good as I am with those, sometimes better. (It remains a mystery to me how someone can like both screamo and old country music.)
While not flawless, I'm a pretty darned good spellur (sic). The reason why is that whenever we asked my parents how to spell a word...and I mean every darned time...their response was "Look it up!" The Bible may have had a semi-permanent layer of dust on it, but the dictionary did not.
Webster was considered so valuable that the way you knew you had crossed the Rubicon into being an adult is you were gifted your own dictionary. Mine was brown and leather-simulated. It had little tabs with the letters on so you could tell right off where to start looking. From the side, with the book closed, you could see little red dots on the paper, like you can see gold edging on a Bible's pages.
Every so often someone would come through Clifton trying to sell sets of Encyclopedias, aka Encyclopedia Britannicas, two dozen or more hard-bound reference books to a set. Only the rich or the desperate-to-please made such a purchase. We just always wanted them to give their spiel and leave because we knew they were beyond our means and imagined how uncomfortable our parents must have been to not be able to purchase something so obviously "good" for their family, a fact no doubt stressed by the salesman. (That may be why I have such an aversion to people arriving at my front door trying to sell me something.)
Having a set of those encyclopedias these days must, ironically, be something of an albatross. Even the most basic computer now comes with more built-in capacities than even the top-of-the-line sets used to contain. I've wondered more than once where all those sets are now...tucked in somebody's basement, in 1,000,000 landfills, ballast in some ship? I inquired of the internet and discovered that you can donate them to "Books for Africa" though I have no idea who would pay to ship them there. You can also donate them to the Salvation Army who, for all I know, may send them to Books for Africa.
It's something I don't have to deal with, and Yahoo for that!