The importance of reading

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 19, 2015

The inspiration for our latest History Happy Hour were the following words written by George A. Hormel in his unpublished autobiography “Three Men and a Business.” George was exposed to different sources that helped develop his appreciation for reading.

George’s father felt it important his children read. “Father subscribed to the ‘Youth’s Companion’ for us. This we read and lent to neighboring children until it fell apart. Also, from a church lending library, we had ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and other popular books of the day.”

During George’s time working in the meat packing industry in 1870s Chicago, he met some other hardworking men who opened his mind to the benefits of literature. He wrote that these roommates were “studious fellows, with education beyond my own. Karl, a recent arrival from Germany, worked in a bookstore. Gus, my uncle’s bookkeeper, a young German-American from Milwaukee, was an ardent reader of Shakespeare. That winter was my introduction to the world of great poetry and to those ideas common to educated minds everywhere.”

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“Evenings after supper we sat in our comfortable chairs by the fire, reading and memorizing Shakespeare’s magnificent lines. The following night we reviewed what we had read the night before, and set penalties on each other for errors. All this gave me a little glimpse of what was to be had through education. Until then, I had only dimly comprehended the gulf between the mind which responded to ideas, and the untrained mind to which they were foreign through lack of recognition.”

George had left school after the sixth-grade to begin his life of labor, but fortunately his father and others helped him grow through learning.

The topic of the History Happy Hour presentation was the upbringing and success of Austin born poet Richard Eberhart. Pat and Richard Nicolai told of Eberhart’s life and success as a Pulitzer Prize winning author of over a dozen books of poetry. In 1947, Eberhart published a volume of poetry called Burr Oaks, which reflected on his life growing up in rural America and gave homage to his childhood home which was on the site of the modern day Burr Oaks apartments.

We also heard from The Ladies Floral Club historian, Pat Stevens, who shared the long history the organization has had of supporting a circulating library system in Austin. They were instrumental in securing funding for the Carnegie Library that opened in 1904. The club continues to meet monthly and to raise funds in support of the literary needs in Austin.

A spirit of learning through literature has roots in the past and continues to thrive in Austin today.

Board of Directors

4 p.m., Monday

 Social Concerns

10 a.m., Tuesday

Spring Gardening Tips presented by Randy Berg of Berg’s Nursery. He will give an overview of how to get ready for your spring gardening projects. Bring your questions and Randy will answer them. Coffee and snack provided. This event is free. Please call 507-433-4243 to let us know you are joining us.

 Ladies Floral Club Book Luncheon at the HHH

Wednesday, April 29

Tickets available only in advance for $25