Harry Reynolds opinion column: Reading, writing – and, uh – other stuff

This is an observation that will, hopefully, not result in my issuing a mea culpa: Women are busybodies. Their key mission in life is to compile endless “honey do” lists. To a certain extent, that is commendable.

Of course, there would be no need to compile “honey do” lists had not Eve eaten that apple. We would still be in the Garden of Eden eating pot roast, drinking Guinness Stout, and singing “Home on the Range.”

If I am forced to apologize, I will, of course, say: “This is not me. My parents taught me to never, never bring up the apple thing.” The mea culpa would be made in front of the dog house.

I like to study stuff. Reading takes much of my time; a habit I acquired early, thanks to my mother. My dad read a lot of westerns. Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, Jack Schaeffer, Frank Dobie, Will James and others rode his shelves.

Reading, I think, is a dying art. The number of people who read books has been declining, replaced by the hurly burley world of technology. We are a strutting society; our stage is Facebook, Twitter, the internet, and other wonders.

The solution to the procrastination and interest in learning, I discovered shortly after my retirement, was to take classes at Lake Land College in Mattoon. Here’s the deal: When you hit 65, the only thing you have to pay for is student activities.

Eventually, I joined the staff of the Navigator, the student newspaper. They put out a fine student newspaper at Lake Land. In addition to editing, I wrote a regular column called, “Tales from the Crapper.”

The inspiration for its name came to me as I, well, sat in the crapper, trying to read a poster attached to the door. The problem was the print was too small, particularly, given the distance between the crapper and the door.

I wrote a note to the administration suggesting it supply each stall with binoculars. Nothing has come of it thus far; Scrooge would have loved these guys.

Although, I no longer am on the Navigator staff, I continue to write columns. It is no longer called “Tales from the Crapper.” Someone suggested “Tales from the Crypt,” but I pointed out that would be premature.

I wrote a column recently on “and, uh” for the Navigator, proposing that signs be erected on campus declaring that Lake Land College is an “and, uh–free campus.” Not that “and, uh” is a big thing at the college; it is not.

The “and, uh” thing goes back to a European history class at Eastern Illinois University. The professor was, maybe, the smartest guy I ever met. Ravines made their way across his face; he was the definitive bald guy.

In those days, the building lacked air-conditioning, which necessitated open windows and doors. Unfortunately, the classroom across the hall was the domain of the head of the history department.

The esteemed professor could not make it through a sentence free of “and, uh.” For the better part of an hour he tormented students. One of his students went quite mad, and jumped out the window in the midst of an “and, uh.”

Did I ever tell you how much I hate clichés? I will.

Harry Reynolds can be reached at reynoldsharry1943@gmail.com

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