Always a reader
I have always been a reader. My earliest memories are of always having a book or two to read. The example was first encouraged by my parents. My father regularly read the local paper called the Murray Pioneer which was published weekly in the nearby town of Renmark, South Australia. As far as I know, this paper is still publishing over 60 years later.
My earliest writing
I can also remember Dad reading the weekly paper simply called The Chronicle. This was primarily aimed at farmers like my father and was full of useful articles for those living on the land. As far as I can determine, this publication ceased in 1954. I think that I read parts of this paper, mainly for the cartoons. Dad also read parts of the weekly paper called The Sunday Mail. I still enjoy reading this paper which is based mainly on South Australian news. Some of my earliest writing was published in the children’s pages of The Sunday Mail.
My mother’s example
My mother also set an example to me regarding reading. Her main interests were in reading various women’s magazines such as the Australian Women’s Weekly. This is still being published, though now it is issued once a month. She also read New Idea, a similar publication aimed at women. As a young writer, I remember the thrill of having some letters published in these periodicals. I was even paid for my letters, a whopping five shillings (50 cents) which was a lot in the 1950s.
In my blood
I guess that writing was in my blood at an early age. Somehow, I was sidetracked into teaching for 35 years, though that brought a great deal of satisfaction.
As a child, I always remember having books in my home. I would always ask for books for Christmas and my birthday. There was always a book prize from the local Sunday School Christmas breakup and I eagerly looked forward to receiving one for good attendance. Any new book was devoured in a matter of hours. I remember reading many Enid Blyton books – Famous Five and Secret Seven among many others. I probably read many of the W.E. Johns’ Biggles series which were popular at the time.
The primary (elementary) school I attended was about a ten-minute walk from where I lived on the family farm. Taplan Primary School never had more than about 30 students and I have very pleasant memories of my school days there. A good proportion of the students were also my cousins. This one-teacher school had a library corner with only several hundred books. This was naturally a magnet for me and I read many of the titles in this small library – though I can’t recall being able to borrow the books to take home. I do remember having a small, compact Collins Gem Dictionary which I took to school every day and home again in the afternoon. I would frequently consult this little book, constantly learning new words.
High School Library
I think that it was 1961 when I started at Loxton High School for my secondary education. Here is where I really began to read voraciously. The school had a large room full of books and I was able to borrow them to take home. Many of these books were devoured on my 40-minute bus trip to and from school. It was here that I discovered the delights of fantasy, especially science fiction.
Readers; please leave some comments about your earliest childhood reading influences and habits.
Good reading and writing,