Delores Goodrick Beggs
One of my most special memories includes the summer of 1941 in Kansas City, Kansas, and my older sister, the summer I was first able to read stories.
You have to first understand what summer in Kansas City was like - oppressive heat that lingered like a cloud, day and night, and, in addition was generally accompanied by high humidity that precluded most activity even for preschoolers like me. Sleeping at night was usually as hot and sweaty as any daytime activity. We all longed, daily, for one of the afternoon thundershowers that often appeared, let loose a temporarily cooling downpour, and then and disappeared again, usually within the hour. A filled thermos bottle was carried as a rule.
In the Kansas City summer climate, shady spots for children to play were at a premium. My older sister, Sis, and her best friend found one good such spot at her friend's house and we four frequented it often.
My sister and I would walk daily up to her friend's house to play school, their favorite game, in the cooler shady spot of her friend's yard. Sis and her friend assumed the roles of teacher. Sis later after high school and college work did become a teacher in fact.
The friend also had a younger sister, and they tutored the two of us in reading and writing for hours, never seeming to tire of the activity.
I will never forget the delight I felt when the scribbles on paper turned into alphabet letters, and the letters later became words.
And I could read.
We'd come home from the school game at Sis's friend's house one day, when I'd been able to turn alphabet letters into some words. For a while I had been fascinated by the books stores on the bottom shelf of my mother's bookcase. She'd told me those were her books.
Fresh from putting my first words together in our play session, I sat on the floor in front of the bookcase and pulled one of my mother's books out. Opening it, and turning some pages, I recognized some words and pieced some new ones together, but I still didn't have the whole picture - just enough to keep me turning the pages and picking out what words I could.
Dinner was late that evening because I kept running to the kitchen and asking my mother what this word or that one was, wanting to know the story. My mother had infinite patience that evening while a whole new world opened itself to my eyes.
I was hooked.
I went all the way through that first book, then the next and next sitting by the bookcase every night until I had read all of my mother's 1920's James Oliver Curwood novels, beautiful, clear, easy to read stories I never forgot growing up, when I started writing stories of my own when I was a teenager.
My mother's old Curwood novels sit in my own bookcase now, far away from Kansas City, a constant reminder of my childhood days of discovering reading with Curwood's novels that so captured my mind I couldn't put them down until I finished the set.
Another summer has arrived here with gentle breezes, at my little California condo far from Kansas City. Recently I picked up Back to God's Country and read it nonstop again, as I do every year.
When I put it back away on my library shelf, I sighed, hoping someday I could write
stories that capture the imagination the way Curwood captured mine from the very beginning.
About the Author:Delores Goodrick Beggs is a prolific award-winning author in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, having started in high school when she would often awaken with a dream demanding to be captured on paper.
She turned her notes into her first stories, often writing during short-lived Kansas thunderstorms that barely thinned the sweltering heat of Pony Ring Ranch where her father raised horses and ponies. She wrote her first collection of fiction on a mountaintop in California while watching her part-Appaloosa mare assert mischievous independence in the exercise corral.
Watch for her next novel: Place in the Heart Book Two: Substitute Lover, coming late December, 2012 from Desert Breeze Publishing.
Stop by and visit her web site at http://www.goodrickbeggs.wordpress.com