Reading: The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

  The year was 1955.  I was ten years old, and it was the most important year of my life.  My family and I were in the first full year of living in the small suburban town of Oradell, New Jersey.  The house we lived in was a rental, built somewhere in the late 19th century. It was so old that there were still remnants of the coal furnace formerly used to heat it, before the new oil-fired one was installed.  We were privileged to have not only a porch, but a yard, as well—actually, three: front, side, and back.  In the side yard were several trees, and among them was a pear tree, which would play an important part in my young life. By age ten, I was already a habitual reader, having been introduced to literature by my mother when I was two. Back then, we lived in a federal housing project in Brooklyn.  Mom would read to me as I sat on her lap in front of the picture window in the living room.  I loved seeing the word pictures she painted as she read to me. Before long, I was reading for myself.  My love affair with words has continued to the present. Imagine my…

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