One word at a time

Everyday, I arrive to work about an hour early so that I can get some early morning reading in before I start teaching. Everyday other teachers and support personnel see me reading, usually a different book every few days. Sometimes students see me reading.

Occasionally someone asks me why I read, why couldn’t I just find whatever I’m looking for online? It’s true that there’s quite a bit of information online, but, inevitably, a book is where my search for information takes me.

Just yesterday I received a book, “The Splinter Fleet of the Otranto Barrage” by Ray Millholland. Now, online there is a lot of information on submarine chasers in both World Wars, but, what was missing was Mr. Millholland’s account.

I’ve sought this book for quite a while for several reasons. The main one being it’s a book on submarine chasers in WWI. The second is that it would be a good source of information while I write my own submarine chaser book (if all has gone to plan, all of the documents concerning the SC-699 should arrive soon, I hope). The third reason is that Mr. Millholland urged his son, James, to join the Navy in WWII and try his best to be assigned to a submarine chaser. The ship his son served on? The SC-699, the ship my grandfather served on.

This book was published in 1936, 73 years ago.

When I was in high school, people called me “The master librarian” because I was able to quickly, and easily, find information for anyone about anything. How did someone who didn’t own a computer or use the Internet until years later pull this off?

Easy. I used the card catalogs. I knew what words and subjects to look for, heck, I even knew the Dewey Decimal System. Of course, having a few encyclopedias at home helped too, even if they were published in 1955.

Students today don’t seem to understand, of course, the vast majority of them won’t go to college and finish their education at the 12th grade or before.

Though, I’m reminded of my father’s words when I told him of my disdain for some of my students not trying their best. He told me to think for a moment. If every student did A level work and went to college, there would be a massive glut of students in college and no one would want to do the “menial” jobs – someone has to flip burgers at McDonald’s.

How did I get from talking about books to students not trying their best? No clue, but one who reads will always read.

Right after I graduated high school I took a job packing auto parts to ship to places around the Southeast United States. In a business employing 80 people, I think it was safe to say that as a high school graduate I had more formal education that at least 75 people in that place.

I saved my money with an eye to starting college in the Fall. The only luxuries I afforded myself in that time was a PlayStation 2, which I’d put in Lay-a-way for several months, and several books. Mostly Michael Crichton books, but a few others as well. I read these books during my lunch breaks and would routinely finish one book per week.

One week I arrived with the single volume edition of Lord of the Rings, which is well over 1,000 pages. Some people asked how I ever hoped to read such a large book. I simply responded, “The same way I read all other books, one word at a time.”

Readers of this site no doubt know that I still enjoy reading. Every page of this site is rife with book reviews, primarily of Economics and Law books, but a few others as well, such as “Digital Apollo” or “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” from a while back.

Soon (tomorrow, I hope) I’ll post a review of the new Professor Layton game (short review: awesome) and some time later a review of a game in Ubisoft’s My Coach series (short review: I’ve played two games in this series and had nightmares that lasted until I stopped playing them).

I think I will curtail writing any more for the night. Take care everyone.

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One Response to “One word at a time”

  1. My father, Walter Nathan Mortimer, was a cook/gunner on the SC-699 when it was hit by the kamakazi plane on May 27, 1944. He was seriously burned and spent several months in an Austrailian burn center. But he never received a purple heart.

    We are looking for as much information as possible for documentation that he was wounded.

    Thank you so much!!!

    Sandra Mortimer

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