I remember back to that almost snow day on Jan 24th, 1935. According to Babu, there were only about six students in each class and Ms. Short had them read from themes. Babu wrote:
In Miss Short’s room we had to read from themes. I seem to have the habit of reading what I don’t see. Otherwise she says I read entertainingly.
I thought of that today because she still has it! My favorite thing about this transcribing and sharing process is how she reacts when I bring passages to her. She has the entertaining reading skills still she must have honed as a mother reading fairy tales to her children. I would bet back then she did different voices and everything yet in these entries the only voice is her own. From the first time I brought her pages and every time after she reads them out loud to me and her voice will go up and up in pitch and excitement. She will read everything in an almost incredulous voice. She gets excited, even by small things, and her voice goes up in a way that is almost unpleasant to hear. She will yell out with squeaky lack of oxygen the last four or five words of a sentence individually. And she loved reading this week’s passages.
“Jenet is going to prom.” (In an ooooo ahhhh voice.)
“I wish I could go,” She asks quietly several times, “Why didn’t I go?”
“Mom and Dad worked today and I had to clean the house.” She laughs full bellied at this. “At One, Jenet and I went to Springfield…I guess I didn’t work for long.” She observes in a frank and honest way. Here was where I laughed loving the way she lets no one off the hook about anything – even her self.
“We met Violet R. She is going to wear a purple trans parent velvet!” She says it with each last separate sound one of those breathily exclamations.
She reads about getting the answers on her English test from Johnny and says: “That’s not how it’s supposed to be done.” I teased her about cheating on her test.
She marvels but only cautiously about her “corset dress.” “I guess it was ok to wear…” She knows that sounds a little racy and is hoping she was proper, always.
She reads about how beautiful Jenet looked going to prom and about the AJ, WBZ, Howie scandal as if she is performing for a radio show.
Whether it’s the journals or the newspaper she always questions and never hides her childlike amazement at the world. It is her sense of wonder I love the most and will some day miss the most about her. That should not be it. I should love her kindness, generosity, and accepting nature the most. I should love the way she has worlds full of love always for her family and in her heart I am family, with out a doubt. And I do appreciate it. I love her dearly. But her sense of awe, the way things are still new, still a wonder, and she is nearly 98! She gives me hope. My end years could be as beautiful as hers. I could live a hundred years and never reach the tipping point of blasé. In her earlier years she would travel. When I met my husband she was going on cruises and to China, and she traveled to many places with her husband decades before. Now she doesn’t wish to leave the house. The though of travel causes her anxiety and she sits day after day in the kitchen of the house she has lived in for decades she seeks out and finds the new. She listens intently to the stories we bring her about our day, she reads the paper, as gruesome as it is, for a glimpse into the world outside of her kitchen, she gets impressed, she still lets the world in.