Monday, June 2, 2008

My grandfather's grandmother loved to read

We came back from a trip to the Czech Republic last night. I talked with my grandfather and aunts and uncles, and other relatives. I hope to write down some of the things I learned from my grandfather. Here is one.

My grandfather's grandmother loved to read. And that is what she missed most when she got old and her eyes gave out, according to my grandfather. Like my grandfather right now, ninety three years old.

My grandfather's grandmother went to school for one week. Apparently in those days (1860's?), kids from poorer families were sent to wealthier families in the village, to help out in any which way. Initially to help care for the youngest ones of the family, or to herd geese or goats, whatever work they could do on the farm. In exchange, they got a roof over their head (since they slept on the farm) and food. School was not mandatory. It was the farmer's decision about how long the kid servants/helpers went to school. My great-great-grandmother went to school for one week only, because the farmer she worked for took her out after that.

Somehow she learned to read nevertheless. But not to write. According to my grandfather, she was an avid reader throughout her 96 (?) year life, until she lost too much eyesight due to old age to be able to read. Reading was what she missed most in the old age.

I will think of this when Sonja asks me to read some book or another yet again.

Aside: Now with my grandfather's sight too frail to read, I thought I would send him a cassette with greetings that he could listen to, and possibly a blank cassette for his reply to us. Unfortunately, no regular electronics shop in Zurich that I visited sells cassette recorders anymore. Dead technology. Too bad. I think that "modern" technology misses the easiness with which cassettes could be recorded and then listened to again. Everything that I can think of that would do the same either requires a computer to record (e.g. a CD) or has a small display that has to be read - neither really accessible to my grandfather. (The CD would be fine for sending to my grandfather, but not for him recording a reply.) May be I will go look through pawn shops for some of this old technology.

1 comment:

Matt Heavner said...

we bought a small "boombox" from Freds that had both CD and cassette for pretty cheap. I bet amazon has something like this and would ship directly. That might be the easiest..