During mail call here in the office the other day, a piece of my childhood was handed to me.
The Old Farmer's Almanac.
It's something I had forgotten all about, but suddenly when it was in my hands, a flood of memories returned. Happy memories.
To understand my growing up years, you have to know something about my parents.
They loved the written word with an abiding and endless affection. Our living room was altered several times as my dad kept putting in additional built-in wall shelves to hold all the books we possessed. We had classic literature, popular literature, history books, a set of encyclopedias and several huge dictionaries. The latter were needed as once a month my mom received in the mail what she called "manna from heaven," the New York Times Crossword puzzles her younger brother Wayne saved for her.
Uncle Wayne taught in the Chicago area and was an avid word fanatic himself. He understood how much his sister enjoyed working those puzzles, which back in the 1960s and 1970s were not so easy to find in the central Upper Peninsula. So he'd gather those and other crosswords and ship them off to his beloved big sis.
We children knew the day the puzzles came in, we'd need to clear the supper dishes quickly so mom could have the dining room table to work on her crosswords. We knew, also, not to bug her with trivial matters and especially not to get too loud and disturb her concentration.
Mom would intently solve clue after clue, sometimes sounding a triumphant "ha" when she unlocked the sometimes tricky leads to the correct solutions.
My parents also subscribed to many magazines. Many. Off the top of my head, I remember Life, Look, Sports Illustrated, Time, Redbook, National Geographic, Field & Stream, Readers Digest and Good Housekeeping being regular arrivals.
My mom would swap magazines with her younger sister, Lois, once a month: Redbook and Good Housekeeping for Ladies Home Journal and McCalls, if memory serves. More good stuff to read.
Which brings me to The Old Farmer's Almanac. When that showed up in our mail, it was mine first. In our house, that was an honor, to be the first to open the pages of a book or magazine, to find what knowledge could be gleaned from within.
My parents got a charge out of me liking The Old Farmer's Almanac so much, I think. Somewhere in an old photo album there's a picture of me at about age 8 sporting my pink cat-eye glasses, curled up in our red butterfly chair, The Old Farmer's Almanac in hand.
Flipping through the pages of the 2012 version was like visiting an old friend. Weather forecasts, recipes and some of the cheesiest advertisements known to mankind.
The calendars were my favorites. First, I'd turn to my birthday listing to see what was there. In the 2012 book, it's this quote: "When the stars begin to huddle, The Earth will soon become a puddle."
That made me smile. The whole The Old Farmer's Almanac made me smile thinking of days gone by. And it made me count my blessings for having parents who instilled into their offspring a thirst for all things written and an endless quest for something new to read.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.