Rick Houser
Rick Houser
By Rick Houser
HCP columnist


The other day a friend, ask me a question about a topic that I hadn’t thought of for many years. This topic is probably the very reason why I write and enjoy it so much.

I think along with my family background and this primed my desire when I was just a little boy. The friend asks me if I had ever written about The Weekly Reader publication.

My first thought to this was how could I have not thought of this, and how could I just set it to the side, so to speak.

When I was in the fourth grade at Moscow Elementary School, I got the chance to receive one of these newspapers designed and topic-oriented for my age. I remember in the first issue that the front page was all about the ongoing construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and how this would allow ocean-sized ships to travel all the way across the Great Lakes, and that this was the biggest thing of this type since the Panama Canal.

To this day, I remember it very well, but I have no idea as to why. The year was 1959. The world was in the Cold War, and Dwight Eisenhower was president. The world at that time was very calm in comparison to the days that followed a few years later. Therefore, this was huge news.

My parents were people who not only liked to read but even read for enjoyment. We got a Cincinnati Times-Star daily paper delivered and we got several of the local county papers. My family and this goes through just about all of them subscribed just as we did. This was way before the internet and instant access so if you wanted to keep up on the world and county around you reading were a must. So I would hear them all in my house talking about things that had happened and felt like I was left out. However, the day that the janitor delivered a stack of Weekly Reader’s my life changed. This was something that stuck to me and I do not recall ever disliking.

As a matter of fact, I began to pick up the daily paper and look mostly at the photos at first and the funny pages at first. Then I got to wondering what the county papers had to offer and began looking there also. I feel that the Weekly Reader was the foundation of moving me toward growing into a thirst to want to know more. I mean it must have helped me in some way as here I am writing to you all and you must have had the Weekly Reader, as you are interested in reading what I’m saying this time. It is safe to say we both won on that.

I really don’t know just how the enrollment to this newspaper worked. (Gonna bet mom took care of the finances at that time.) But when the school year was over I was signed up to get the Weekly Reader at home in the mail. I recall that waiting for that first issue seemed forever and I was not told just how long it would be before it began. So one morning, I was out in the front yard playing when the mail carrier (my Uncle Charles) pulled up to the mail box and as he was putting mail in our box and he saw me and hollered to me that I had gotten mail.

Now when you are 9 or 10 years of age the event of receiving, a piece of mail was a rare event. So I ran to the mail box and there wrapped in a brown paper tightly creating a cylinder and on the side of it was a label that said to Mr. Rick Houser. Wow, I got real excited, as only the most important mail would come to me addressed Mr.! I knew for sure it was my issue of the Weekly Reader, and I began to rip that brown paper wrapper off.

Excitement can be good but over excitement can cause a letdown and as I tore that wrapper I guess I tore to hard as I tore my Weekly Reader almost entirely into two pieces. When something like this happens, you can go from total overexcitement to total panic. As I looked at what I had done, I was as sad as I had been happy only a minute before. Slowly, I turned and began to walk to the house as I only had one option left. I went to my mom and showed her what I had just done and kept pointing out that I did it as an accident.

Mom assessed the situation and told me to sit down at the kitchen table and she would see what she could do. Laying that ruined paper out flat on the table mom had pulled out a roll of scotch tape and page by page, she slowly lined up the pages so that the words lined up and taped together the entire issue for me.

When she had finished and before she handed it to me, I got a short lecture about being overzealous and about being more careful and most of all about this should not ever happen again. Will it? I agreed and read that paper slowly and carefully, the next week I took the delivery to mom and she opened the wrapper and I went on my way.

To this day, I love to read and I really enjoy the chances to write. I think as to how fortunate I was to have been raised in a family where the thirst for knowledge of not just what is happening on you street but wherever news is at all over the world. As a matter of fact, my mom wrote a book back in the 1970s and one of her articles won an award to which I was and am still proud of her accomplishment. She did this from all of that reading she had done.

To this attribute, I am glad that maybe some leaked over into me. I have so far published two books and did so because I just felt the desire to do so. Reading all these years and despite my attempt at destroying the news I have still absorbed a lot I guess. I guess though that if it hadn’t been brought to my attention I would have not given the credit to where I feel it should go. So here and now, I say thank you Weekly Reader.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you might be interested to read more of his writing, he has two books for sale. He can be reached at houser734@yahoo.com or write to him at P.O. Box 213 Bethel, Ohio 45106.