I remember the summer I read Gone With the Wind for the first time. It was the summer of 1974. I’d just finished seventh grade, and my sisters and I were spending our summer with our uncle, Gerry, and his family at his home in Newtown, CT.
The Newtown of my youth was full of sun, swimming, and meeting new friends. It seemed to exemplify my book-inspired vision of a small New England town with its white church steeples and old homes with shuttered windows and picket fences. The town’s flagpole was a landmark which helped me to navigate in the right direction towards Uncle Gerry’s home. Narrow roads lined with old stone fences were shaded by the woods as they crowded towards the lane ready to return the pavement to a more natural state. I would close my eyes as I tried to picture this community as it might have appeared when our country was newly formed. It wasn’t difficult. Newtown was steeped in history.
It was the summer Nixon resigned as president. I watched his resignation speech on the TV in the den. I was old enough to realize history was happening in front of me. I had been reading GWTW, but my attention became riveted on the President. Not too many things could pull me from the story of the Old South. It is strange how your mind connects certain smells and songs to life events.
I link books with different events in my life. The next summer, I found myself lonely and spending most of my days going to the library in our new town. Dreading the thought of going to high school in a new town without a single friend to bolster my insecure teenaged self. I went through a whole series of historical romance fiction which became the basis for my view on love. The heroine of the series was my only friend.
A few years ago, I wanted to read the series again. The books weren’t in print any longer, but searching the internet auction sites allowed me to acquire the entire set of books. My finds consisted of some hardcovers, some paperbacks and all well used by other readers. I read them again 40 years later. I still enjoyed the stories teeming with adventure, danger, and romance. The author created a world which helped to ease the loneliness of an awkward teen.
Did the book Star Spangled Summer with its Army post setting influence my choice to become an Army officer? A Wrinkle in Time opened my eyes to a world of fantasy and time travel. Yes, I have copies of both books tha
t I hope my future grandchildren might enjoy.
I have accumulated a significant number of books on my Kindles (Yes, plural. One is not enough). So many books I question if I will manage to read them all before I leave this earth. But I do know some books will make such an impact on my life, and I will forever mark that time with their presence in it.