Pete's News


Howdy folks! This here's ol' Pete and Rosebud comin' at you again!

Last time, I was tellin' you 'bout my uncle Eustice and how he took to book readin' when he was a young'un. He was in the horspital, see, and his older sister, Aunt Bet, come to see him and brought him this here story book. Well, ol' Eustice hadn't never seen a book like that before and took to it like a duck takes to water, settin' propped up in bed readin' it right in front of everbody. Natcherly, Grandpa was mortified. I mean, somebody could've seen him readin' it and the whole family would've been scandalized. Grandpa didn't know what to do. He hadn't never been bothered with none of the other young'uns readin' books. So he called a family meetin' to see if they could help him figger out what to do.

I was little, but I can still remember it. All of 'em met out in the parkin' lot at the horspital. My uncles, ol' Eustice's brothers, was mad at Aunt Bet for givin' him the book, but she wasn't even there. She come in, kissed Eustice on the for'd, handed him the book and turned around and left a few minnits later.

Aunt Betsy had moved off from up here a long time before that. She married some city feller that nobody knowed nothin' about and didn't like neither. Them city people ain't like reg'lar people, y'know, and this ol' boy give Aunt Bet some real strange notions about stuff. Like that book. She didn't no more think nothin' about givin' ol' Eustice that book than a goose does about gettin' in the water. But since she'd already gone home, it left her brothers to stand around rollin' smokes, talkin' and tryin' to figger out what to do.

They finally decided to get it away from him while he was asleep and tell him he didn't need to be strainin' his eyes readin' while he was sick nohow. And that's what they done. They brought in a checker board and took turns settin' with him, makin' him play checkers ever minnit he was awake 'til he went home. They figgered checkers would get it out of his head, but it didn't. It was too late. The time to do somethin' about a young'un takin' up readin' is right when they first look at a book. Grab it outta their hands if you have to. Books is like dope. If you wait 'til they start readin' 'em, it's too late. They're already hooked. And if they get hooked on readin' books when they're young'uns, they'll stay hooked on it for the rest of their lives.

Now don't get me wrong. All young'uns ain't like that. Some can read a page or two now and then and it won't bother 'em none. Might even do 'em good. Specially if it's somethin' dull. It'll show 'em there ain't nothin' to readin' and they won't want to do it no more. But if you put a good book, one like that Tom Sawyer book, in the hands of a kid you might as well give him a box of matches to play with. They get to readin' and somethin' goes off in their little heads that they can't handle. All they want to do is read. They're hooked forever.

Readin' ain't as bad for girls. It seems like girls can read things and it don't bother 'em as much. Somehow or other, they just handle it better'n boys. Maybe it's 'cause they don't go 'round rubbin' people's noses in what they know. But boys get to readin' and, first thing you know, they get to actin' like they know more about stuff than grown ups do. That's the way Eustice was. Grandpa would be standin' around talkin' about raisin' hawgs or somethin', and Eustice would butt in and try to tell him somethin' he'd read about hawgs in a book. It wasn't just hawgs neither. He'd try to tell people stuff he'd read about raisin' corn and cattle and everthing. I mean, it was like he didn't even care if people knowed he was readin'.

Grandpa finally had to just come down hard on him and shut him up right in front of everbody. It was down at Silas's store. Grandpa told him just to hush, that he'd wore out three or four good farms a farmin' and he shore didn't need no book reader's help wearin' out the next'un.

Yeah, he put him down real hard, but it didn't do no good. He took to sneakin' off to the liberry, gettin' books and readin' everthing he could get his hands on. Then he went off to college and read a whole bunch more books. Grandpa finally told him he'd better get a good education and get him a office job 'cause he shore hadn't ever been able to learn him nothin' about makin' a livin' from honest work.

I reckon he took that to heart. He never come back to the holler. Not to stay. Last I heared, somebody said he'd wrote a book his own self and was havin' a book signin'—whatever that is—over at the liberry in town awhile back. Grandma said she got a letter about it, but didn't go. Said she couldn't stand seein' him shamed no more. Said she was just glad Grandpa had passed on and wouldn't see it.

Eustice didn't come up here to see Grandma either. I guess it's just as well. You know how it is. You raise six or seven real nice young'uns, but the one that starts readin' books and goes bad is the only one people want to talk about.

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