A Childhood Memory

November 1, 2010 | My Jottings

When I was three years old my maternal grandparents sold their cattle farm in Kansas and moved to Southern California to be closer to our family. We used to visit Grandpa and Grandma McInteer’s house in Covina almost every Sunday.

I remember riding my tricycle in their circular driveway. I remember the cookies by Nabisco called Ideals that Grandma used to have on hand. I wish Nabisco still made Ideal cookies. They were peanut buttery and dipped in chocolate. And they tasted best with a cold glass of milk within reach. On second thought, it’s probably good that Nabisco doesn’t make Ideals anymore. My grandparents also had a sprightly yellow canary on their back porch named Mr. Clean, called so because he bathed in his water more than he drank it. We always watched “The Wonderful World of Disney” on those Sunday nights. I remember that, while I knew they cared about me, neither Grandpa or Grandma talked to me very much.

And behind the couch in their small living room, this large painting hung. It’s called “The Fairy Tale” by Sir Walter Firle. I stared at that painting a lot as I was growing up, and I wondered what those three little girls were so entranced by.

Even though I didn’t know the name of this painting or the artist back then, I wonder now if it influenced me toward books. The memory of gazing at this painting is very strong.

My first recollection of being excited about books is from second grade, when Mrs. Lokken used to read the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books to our class after we came in from lunch recess. It was usually hot out, and we would come in and put our sweaty heads down on our desks, she would dim the lights in the bright, many windowed room, and all would grow quiet as Mrs. Lokken read “The Radish Cure” and the “Fighter-Quarrelers Cure” and the “Never Want To Go To Bedders Cure” to us. New worlds opened up in that school room.

If you’re a reader, what influenced you to begin reading for pleasure? Was it an elementary school teacher? A high school English teacher? A certain book? A book club you were invited to? A friend’s interest in books? A parent?

Do you remember one of the first books you read that captivated you in the way these little girls have been drawn to the pages in their book?

I look forward to reading whatever you share….


  1. Ember says:

    One of my favourite series was Alison Uttley’s ‘Little Grey Rabbit’ books. I loved the picture of Milkman Hedgehog’s child looking out through the doorway at the evening star, and the story where the weasels in Shady Lane captured Little Grey Rabbit and stood her on the kitchen table and forced her to sing for them by pinching her. Wise Owl rescued her in the end.
    Oh – and about my favourite book was the story of Ferdinand the Bull, who could not be persuaded to fight no matter what they did to him – he just sat down in the bull ring to smell the flowers all the pretty ladies were wearing in their hair.

  2. Just Julie says:

    I loved Ferdinand the Bull too, Ember. I haven’t heard of Alison Uttley’s books, though – I should look those up for grandbabies. Thank you……

  3. Jessica says:

    And somehow a wonderful blog about books led into the topic of rodents again. Ugh.

  4. Just Julie says:

    Oops, Jessica! Maybe I should have a warning on some blog posts: Caution – rats and rabbits ahead! πŸ™‚

  5. Tauni says:

    My Granny (dad’s mom) and dad were the ones who influenced my book reading habits. Granny used to always say, “as long as you have a book you always have a friend.” Unlike you Jules, I did not start reading for pleasure until I was almost out of High School. And then, it was not classics or beloved children’s books. It was mysteries mostly ~ and Gothic mysteries as well. A lot of spooky things that usually ended up being not so spooky! She had a plethora of books from which to choose and always allowed me access. We were not library goers nor was my mom one to read to us ~ she was quite busy taking care of four children less than 5 years apart and my father to boot! My father was an avid reader and later in my adult years we would spend hours reading together when I would visit. We would discuss what we were reading and would exchange books as well; that and putting jigsaw puzzles together!

  6. Just Julie says:

    So good to read your comments, Tauni. Anything you share feels like old home week. Even if we were miles apart back then. LY πŸ™‚

  7. Savannah says:

    Crysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, is the book that fills my childhood memories. =)
    Google it, look at the sweet picture on the front, and then go find it at your local library or bookstore.
    I love reading so much because the day that I came home from the hospital, Mama read me books… and she never stopped.

  8. Just Julie says:

    I will look for that one right now, Savannah. Thank you!

  9. Jessica says:

    When I was in first grade my teacher had these paper bags up on the wall with different numbers on them. If a student read the number of pages that was listed on the bag, he/she would get to pick a prize out of that bag. The last one in the line was 1000 and if we read that many pages, she would take us out for ice cream!!! I was the first one to reach this goal and I reached it over and over and over that year. I had A LOT of ice cream with that teacher! It was awesome.

    Ever since that time I have been an avid reader. As I continued in elementary school, one of my favorite things was going to the school library. The librarian recognized my love for books and got to know me and what books I was interested in. Often, I would come down for library time and she would have some books on her desk waiting for me that she had picked out, knowing that I would enjoy them. That has always stuck with me and meant a lot to me.

    Now that my own child has started school, I have made a point to volunteer in his school library and do what I can to help out there because it had such an impact on me.

    Now that I think about this, I think I might have to write about it on my own blog….thanks for the idea Julie!


  10. Jessica says:

    And I am so sad to hear that your grandparents didn’t talk to you. That just breaks my heart.

  11. Just Julie says:

    You have loved books from a very young age, Jessica. What an amazing influence your teacher had on you! Ice cream and books – a very winning combination. πŸ™‚

  12. Just Julie says:

    Thank you for your kind comment, Jessica. You can read a little about it here if you like: http://www.justjulieb.com/winning-over-grandma-oma/

  13. Sue Raimo says:

    Every summer the neighborhood branch library had a summer reading program. We could check five books each week and receive recognition for each book read. I fell in love with reading the first summer I participated in the program. I read the Little House on the Prairie books, the Boxcar Children mysteries, and anything and everything that grabbed my interest. After high school my great Aunt introduced me to Catherine Marshall. I read Christy, Julie, and every one of her non-fiction books as well.

    The only book we owned as children was Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss. I can still recite much of that book from memory

  14. Just Julie says:

    I would love to read the Catherine Marshall books again too, Sue. They aren’t just books, they’re experiences. Thank you for commenting, my friend. πŸ™‚

  15. Larry says:

    I remember that picture, as it brings back memories of my sitting on Grandma’s lap and she read to me, it seemed that momma never had the time or perhaps she was too busy with other things. I don’t remember the cookies you mentioned, but I spend hours helping grandpa wax his caddy with pledge and I remember the little things he helped me make with wood, or the stories he would tell me. I too remember that half circle drive, I remember the neighbors named the Greeners next door. I loved driving around that house and knowing they would be there as I got older. I remember one time turning the corner there on Delay and my brother Steve was down on the ground in front of the Greeners home with one of the boys named Russell beating up on my smaller brother and Mrs. Greener was standing there on her porch watching him get beat up. I stopped the car and returned the favor to him, the next thing I remember was Mrs. Greener pulling me off of him and hitting me with her broom. That house use to have a field across from Grandma and Grandpa’s home. There I taught my little brother about going snipe hunting and how fun it was to sit out all night calling in the snipes in the cold damp scary night, as I was hiding close by making funny noises πŸ™‚ That home had many memories for me. All pleasant some hard some easy to remember but all bring back so many other memories. I use to cross that field and go down the cliffs at the far end and I cut a pathway down the side with Grandpa’s shovel and would spend hours looking at the tad poles and small fish that swam there. I would catch them and bring them back to Grandma and she always put them in a glass for me to watch. The fish never lasted but the tad poles would soon develop little legs and I would let them loose in their back yard.

    Thanks for the memories.

  16. Just Julie says:

    I enjoyed reading about your memories before I came along, Lar. πŸ™‚

  17. Jessy says:

    So glad I found this – I stumbled across your blog while googling that picture (I remembered seeing it growing up, but couldn’t figure out the name or artist) – I’m now going to have to buy myself the print!

  18. Just Julie says:

    Glad to be of help, Jessy!

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