News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 12, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: Reading, writing add to her day

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — My family was devoted to words and word games. Books, magazines, newspapers (and the crossword puzzle) were a big hit. I could hardly wait until I could read.

While Mom prepared Sunday dinner, Grandma would entertain us by reading the funnies. I learned a lot of early misbehavior from the antics of Hans and Fritz, “The Katzenjammer Kids.”

Uncle Jim always greeted us with a quote from “Alice in Wonderland.” His favorite was the Mock Turtle. Mom finally read us “Alice,” a chapter a night, as our bedtime story. How I wanted to find that rabbit hole.

I carried my reader home from first grade to read my new-found skill to my brother, Ed. Then I realized that someone had written this stuff and thus began my urge to write.

Miss Hoadley, my fourth-grade teacher, assigned us to write an essay about our day. At that time Eleanor Roosevelt produced a newspaper feature she called “My Day.” I figured that my day would never compare with her day, so I decided to write my essay based on a typical day of our dog, “Lady.” Maybe her day going from nap to nap, walk to walk and an occasional dog fight with Friskie Farren wasn’t any more exciting than my day, but I got points for originality.

In eighth grade, Miss Strauss arranged for us to write to pen pals in Puerto Rico. Marguerite and I exchanged letters for years.

I tried to keep in touch with friends who married and moved away, but few shared my enthusiasm for letters, and I was often disappointed. Lorna and Mary never disappointed me, and I’ve picked up one or two devotees of snail mail from time to time. This assures that not everything in the mailbox consists of ads or appeals for money.

I was on the far side of 40 years before I realized my ambition to work for a newspaper. I have been doing this since 1978. What has developed is not a chronicle of “my day,” but also a diary of much of my life.

Read it as a dream achieved.