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BOOKS AND BIBLIOPHILES

posted Nov 19, 2015, 6:31 AM by David Watson

Of all of my influences as a child, possibly the most enduring one was my grandfather, McClellan Watson.  His was an uncompromising style that many considered, to put it kindly, eccentric.  He was at once a geologist, train engineer, TV: half of us say we watch too much of it (ironically, essentially the same percentage as those who read regularly); nation-wide, six million videos are rented each day, while only three million items are checked out of public libraries; and per year, our children spend on average 900 hours in school, but over 1000 in front of the tube.

            As I began looking through my new collection, it was obvious that not only had Grandpa managed to squirrel away this enormous stack of books, but based on notes I found in the margins, he had read and studied a great many of them as well.  As a boy I had often observed him sitting (inside or outside) quietly reading and marking on some book, newspaper, or article photocopied from the local library.  He got up early, read by the natural light of the sun, and had little use for television.  In retrospect, I appreciate that he possessed a great and unquenchable desire to learn, simply for its own sake—and if he could obtain the information at a bargain price (or for nothing) then so much the better.  Even today any time I manage to grab up a good book for a small price a little smile crosses my face as I think that the old boy would likely approve.  Now I get it, Gramps (but what exactly was that attraction to the National Enquirer?).

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