It’s been awhile since I’ve written about books. I’m not reading as much as used to. I’m still keeping up with our book club here at the continuum care campus but that only requires that I polish off one book a month. Some of our recent reads have been: Everyone Brave is Forgiven, The Vanishing Half, Everything I’ve Never Told You and The All--Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion. That last book was written by Fannie Flagg ten years ago and I read and liked it when it first came out. This week I listened to it and liked it even more. Fannie read the book for the audio version using both a southern and a Polish accent. I usually prefer audio books read by professionals but it didn’t take a deep dive on the internet to learn that Fannie IS an accomplished actress, comedian and author. She’s had parts in Grease, (playing the nurse), Fried Green Tomatoes (playing the teacher), Five Easy Pieces (playing Stoney) as well as she was on a long list of TV shows including two seasons on The Dick VanDyke Show. She was also a recurring panelist on an impressive list of popular game shows in the ‘70s and ‘80s. She was even nominated for two Academy Awards.
Although she wanted to, Fannie didn’t write during ‘70s but a note from a teacher in the audience of a game show, who noticed a pattern of misspelling in her answers, changed Ms Flagg’s life by telling her she’s dyslexia. “I was, am, severely dyslexic and couldn't spell, still can't spell," she said in an interview. "So I was discouraged from writing and embarrassed." This side-note on the author blew me away. I can’t tell you how many close friends and family have expressed shock when I’ve asked for help spelling a word. It’s deeply embarrassing to have to ask in the first place, then have them respond with something like, “How can you write if you can’t spell?” I tell them the mechanics of spelling isn't the same things as picking out the words you want to write. It's an inadequate explanation for a deeply misunderstood learning disability but it’s all I’ve got.
days kids with dyslexia are identified early on and they are given
tools to help keep them from falling behind. But they still struggle and
like many famous people who has come forth to share their stories
about growing up with this learning disability kids today still fear
reading out loud and getting bullied. Robin Williams joked he was the
only kid in his neighborhood who once went Trick or 'trouting'. Cher,
Henry Winkler, Richard Branson, Anderson Cooper, Albert Einstein and
Pablo Piasso have all written about their struggles with reading and
spelling. Clearly, dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence but I dare say those of us who have it have all been called 'stupid' or 'retard' while growing up.
Back to the book: The All--Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is a lighter read than my book club usually picks and while we haven’t had our discussion yet, I’m getting the impression from a few snippets of conversions around the campus that others are not getting into the storyline like I did. I’m not surprised by that. The others have more sophisticated tastes in books and read more widely. I’ve been open about the fact that I’m dyslexic and that I came to love reading later in life than most people. Still, I like to think I hold my own with the discussions when I’m not having one of my tongue-tied days. All bets are off when that happens.
Okay, I should probably get down to what I liked about this book and that’s easy to answer. I love Ms Flagg’s research on the WASP (the Women’s Air Force Service Patrol). She was able to make this little known period of women’s history come alive. One of my ancestors, Amelia Earhart, was in the WASP so I was already aware of the more than 1,000 female pilots who racked up over 60 million miles of operational flights. When I think about them flying brand new planes from the factories to the air force bases and doing things like towing aerial targets for the guys in training to shoot at and transporting cargo in every type of military aircraft produced during WWII it makes me mad that it took decades and a signature from Jimmy Carter for these women to finally get included into the military history books. I read in one article the reason the air force didn’t want it known that women were able to flying the same planes as the men were flying is because they needed the combat pilots during WWII to feel like heroes. That may have been true during the '40s but it shouldn't have taken the Good Old Boys Club so long to finally give the WASP their due credit. Can you imagine the nerves of steel it took to pull a target behind a plane while fighter pilots in training tried to nail the target you were pulling?
I may not remember the story lines of most of the books I read but I do remember favorite passages that I collect from the books that speak to me. And From The All-Girls Filling Station Last Reunion the quote I saved came after the leading character's mother died and Sookie had time to reflect. This is what she told herself: “Thanks to Dr. Shapiro, she has learned that being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome. And she had overcome something that, for her, was huge. She had overcome her fear of displeasing her mother….”
Finding this new lens to judge my own life by, made the trip to the corner of Fiction and Dyslexia worth while. ©
It is shameful to realise that the important roles of women are still being overlooked. I'm glad the WASPs have been recognised, albeit belatedly.ReplyDelete
Overcoming dyslexia, or, rather, being given ways to live with it, is so important. My eldest grandson is severely dyslexic but that didn't stop him attaining a degree and subsequently a prestigious job in cyber security.
Finding ways to live with dyslexic is a better way to say it than overcoming it. Thanks for that. My best 'trick' is to do as much reading and writing as I can first thing in the morning when my brain is either still half asleep or wide awake---I could never figure out which. And of course I couldn't live without Alexia. Before her I had a Franklin Word Master that literally change the course of my life. I still get hung up but I never give up which I'm sure is a trait all successful people with dyslexic like your grandson share.Delete
Unfortunately, the WASPs didn't get military benefits that they should have been entitled to for decades. The character in the book who was inspired by the woman who started the WASP did eventually get a President's Metal of Freedom Award.
P.S. I just tried to leave a comment on your blog but the system wouldn't let me. That Easter creation is so sweet!Delete
When I used to teach kids, it always stirred me when I had a student who had learned to overcome various challenges. So many of those who struggled eventually became overcomers. Each of us faces something difficult, sooner or later in life.ReplyDelete
I like Fannie Flagg and love the way she creates a sense of community in the books of hers that I've read. I have saved The All-Girls Filling Station Last Reunion and look forward to reading it. Those women who bravely served, nearly unnoticed at the time, made a huge difference in the war effort. No surprise. Thank goodness they finally received some of the recognition they well deserved.
Fannie is quite an interesting person. I didn't really know anything about her until I researched for this blog and I've read just about all her books. I watched a YouTube video of her too. I'm anxious to see how the book in received in club because it was my pick for the group---we each had two. My other pick was the Last Bus to Wisdom, which was light reading like this one but so full of well drawn characters.Delete
My younger brother had dyslexia, never got any help at school. It was the 1950's. He could barely read but was building go-carts with engines at eight years old. You are correct in saying dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence.ReplyDelete
Back in the 40's and 50's when I and your brother were in school I'm not sure they had even invented the word dyslexia. The "help" I got was telling me I wasn't trying hard enough. If I didn't get straight A's in art and mechanic drawing classes to balance out the D's in classes that required heavy reading I never would have graduated. Thanks for sharing this about your brother!Delete
From The All-Girls Filling Station Last Reunion sounds like a book I'd enjoy. I like the quote your pulled from it. Couldn't agree more.ReplyDelete
It's starts out kind of silly because that's the way the lead character was but she grows through out the book.Delete
I still have trouble posting comments on your blog but know I read each and every one.
I recently finished The Flight Girls: A Novel by Noelle Salazar that is about the WASPs. It was a terrific book and I recommend it. Those women contributed so much and should have been recognized for their service long ago.ReplyDelete
I am glad you speak up about your dyslexia and explain it to others.
We certainly can use more kindness in this world!
I'm putting that book on my Want List!Delete
Speaking up about Dyslexia is a rather new thing for me.
I'm sorry you (and others) were called names for being dyslexic, Jean. I love that quote about overcoming, and I have loved Fannie Flagg's writing for a long, long time.ReplyDelete
She knows how to spin a character and a story line, doesn't she. I didn't mention her search on the Golden Age of Gas Stations in this post but she did a great job touching on that aspect of history too.Delete
I think that quote is going to be the basis for the post I want to write on coming to terms with the fact that I'm not immortal. LOL
I learned a great deal about dyslexia in my education and psychology classes before even becoming a teacher. When I taught, I was on the lookout for the signs of dyslexia. Most people think it's just transposing letters, but that's not really the whole of the syndrome. Thankfully, the education and training has gotten far more sensitive and in depth, and dyslexia is caught far earlier so that kids can be helped.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad the educational system has come to recognize learning disorders of all kinds. Transposing letters is not my main issue. Spelling the middle parts of words is. Transposing entire words, too. Compounding my problem is when I was in grade school they experimented with a type of teaching of reading where we not taught to sound out words...lots of memorization of common word instead. So I'm always on the look out when I edit for things like that/what and there/their being changeable in Jean Land. I still can't sound out words. It's a total mystery to me and some sounds I don't seem to ear like the differences between pin/pen.Delete
I'm so interested in dyslexia. I don't think I have it with letters but I really have to concentrate looking at numbers -- sixes and nines, threes/fives/eights -- they baffle me. My worst highway spot ever is an intersection of 69 North, 69 south, 96 east and 96 west. I've taken the wrong one many a time because I couldn't process that quickly in a moving vehicle at highway speed!ReplyDelete
I did the same thing with writing a check last week. Wrote 69 when it was supposed to be 96.Delete
One of the best parts about blogging is the research. Two of my brothers are dyslexic and are geniuses in their field. One just became a grandfather and is happy to read books to his granddaughter. He doesn't read for pleasure otherwise. It's a difficult disability!ReplyDelete
I used to know the percentage of the population that have learning disabilities but I've forgotten it. It's interesting that both of your brothers are dyslexic.Delete
Your book club reads a lot of the same books I do. I've read all of those you listed except the one by Fannie Flagg, but I have read several of her books in the past. I loved her writing -- I'll have to add your suggestion to my list. And I'm wondering now how many of the people who were "poor readers" in my classes were dyslexic.ReplyDelete
I'm listening to an interview of Fannie as I am typing and she said that there is so much bad and ugly stuff going on in the world that she wants to write something to balance. She said there are lots of people doing great thing for each other in the world and they don't don't get credit for it.Delete
If you read the Filling Station book remember it starts out kind of silly and shallow which is part of the personality of the leading charcter.
I have lived in Texas for many years, but was never aware of the National WASP WW ll Museum until I took a senior bus tour to West Texas. Unbeknownst to me, the trip to the museum in Sweetwater, Texas was tucked into our itinerary. What a great surprise! It is in a hanger in the middle of nowhere, and is a wonderful tribute to those women. It includes a plane and the oversized men’s uniforms that they had to roll up to make them useful since no women’s clothing was provided. There is a photo and short bio of each women who worked there and where they were from. All in all, a very informative and poignant display. Too bad it is geographically inaccessible to many people.ReplyDelete
Ya, it is a little out of the way but it makes sense to be in Clearwater. I think they have a display in Washington D.C. as well though. I wonder if they sent little displays on traveling exhibits. I'd go to one if one came my way. There is a display about Nancy Love (the inspiration for a character in the book) in my state's Famous Women of Michigan Museum.Delete
I’ve been reading your blog for several years. I’m younger than you but I know a CCC is in my future. I am going through your blog archives trying to find entries pertaining to your decision making process.ReplyDelete
As a retired secondary special education teacher I worked with students with various learning differences. By that age many had given up and felt “dumb”. I encouraged them to earn their diploma because more doors would be open where they could focus on their strengths.
I appreciate the fact that you are very open about your dyslexia and it hasn’t deterred you from writing. Spellcheck and proofreading are not foolproof but often lead to some unintentional, happy “mistakes”. For instance the last sentence in your comment to Nance “some sounds I don’t seem to ear like the differences between pin/pen.” I think you meant to write “hear” but “ear” works even better.
Please never stop writing/blogging. You have a gift of finding humor in the ordinary, for educating and finding thoughtful topics. Your life experiences are more valuable than any advanced educational degree.
ST in NM
Wow, thank you for all the nice comments. I laughed at the ear/hear thing. My dyslexic mistakes are much easier to find in the comment sections of my blog because the main blog goes through 3-4 readings over several days to catch my mistakes and the comments, get one quick read through before I publish a reply.Delete
The wind up to decide to move to a CCC was long and stretched over several years. One year I looked at condos and stand-alone cottages before I started touring CCC with the senior hall outings. You'd probably have to go back 5 years in my archive to find the first posts on the moving decision. Then the downsizing took up a good solid years and a half with was made longer because of Covid. I marvel at the people who moved here without much forethought at all. Talked to someone who decided one month and by the next they bought into this place. That's not in my DNA but they seem just as happy with their decision as I am with mine.
P.S. One of my niece's was a special ed teacher for 20 years. I credit her for pinning a name on my learning disability. I was showing her some old diaries I wrote when I was ten years old and I have since read a lot on the topic. I also remember being in college when my best friend was learning how to teach reading to kids and she tried to teach me phonetics. It helped a little but I still can't sound words out well at all.Delete
I love reading but now days struggle to read anything so I switched to audio books which is bloody great and so much easier for meReplyDelete
I like audios too. Used to listen to a lot of them when I plowed snow but quit when my husband had his stroke. Now I'm back to them and I love that I can multi task while listening.Delete
I don't think it's dyslexia as generally understood (letter switching), but I have a little quirk that's caused me problems for years. I double consonants when I shouldn't, and never do it when I should. For example: zucchini. Every time I try to write that word, I have to look up the spelling, and I always have it wrong: zuchinni. I'm lucky that I have a regular blog reader who sends me alerts when I've done it again. Thanks to him, I'm more aware of the problem, and sometimes can catch an error on my own -- but not always.ReplyDelete
You'd think that audio books would be great for someone who does my kind of work, but I can't work and listen at the same time. Inevitably, I end up concentrating on my work, and realize I've missed huge chunks of the story. That's one reason I prefer books. If I'm going to read, I read, and give the book my full attention.
What you do with the double consonants would look like you have a sticky key on your computer. But I love that you have a friend that looks out for you.Delete
I get that with the audio books. Furniture refinishing (which has a lot in common with what you do) is so meditative that I'd would not be able to listen to a book too. I can't type and listen. I mostly listen when I'm getting groomed in the mornings or fixing food. Sometimes I'll follow along in the book while it's being read to me. In the summer I'll listen with ear buds out on my deck.
Recognition for Female Heroes is long overdue. How could a Woman's accomplished Heroic Deeds possibly diminish a Man's accomplished Heroic Deeds anyway, that was a lame excuse to not give Women their recognition. Of coarse it's not just Women who were not recognized and we all know that, the fragility of the Patriarchy is rather Amusing at times, isn't it? *winks* I don't Read much but probably have Read more lately than I ever have in my Life. I've usually got Two Books going now, but I don't do marathon Reading at all, that would not be enjoyable for me so I doubt I'd hack it in a Book Club or with Books Assigned to me. Whether Refined Taste or just the Joy of Reading anything, I don't differentiate... I find a lot of alleged Refinement to be boring as Hell actually and rather stuffy, but, to each their own. Some folk become Legends in their own Minds and I find that to be just pretentious and highly amusing. Great Dark Humor Fodder, the Pretentious folk. *Winks*ReplyDelete
I know, when I read the 'excuse' for not acknowledging women's role in the war I thought, "are men's egos really that fragile?" I suppose back then they were more so than now. But clearly some men still feel that way otherwise we wouldn't get groups lie the Proud Boys and so many men wanting to control women's health and reproductive rights.Delete