The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Treasures Of The Attic

By Martha Cockrell Robinson © 1991

Issue: November, 1991

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from the book, Down Memory Lane, by Martha Cockrell Robinson.

When I was in the third grade, I discovered the fun and pleasure of reading. I first read storybooks from the school library, selected for me by the school librarian, Miss Lola M. Price. I remember times when I would slip out of bed, after the kerosene lamp had been blown out and the grownups were in the kitchen sitting around talking, and sit by the glowing embers of the fireplace reading a storybook. Once Mama's youngest brother caught me and sternly told me I was going to ruin my eyesight reading by the firelight.

My interest continued to grow, and by fifth or sixth grade, I had discovered rows and rows of musty, dusty books on the shelves in the attic. They were left over from the school days of my mother and her sister and brothers. From the school library I would check out books that little girls were supposed to read. I read all of Louisa May Alcott's books and all the other books that Miss Price would select for me to read. Then, at home I'd go up in the attic and browse. One book that I read when I was eleven or so was the one about the sinking of the Titanic. I was both fascinated and horrified by the pictures of the ship sinking and the people screaming for help.

Most of the books in the attic, though, were boys' books, left there by my uncles. I think that every book Zane Gray had ever written must have been there, and I read every one of them. Also, there were books about dogs and I read those - including Jack London's "Call Of The Wild," which I loved, and read again and again. There were many other books there that had been written for boys, including the "Hardy Boys" series. Girls' books or boys' books - it didn't matter - I enjoyed them all.

Sometimes I was reading a book when I was supposed to be doing chores and would have to be reminded that the chores were to be done first. I remember Maw calling on more than one occasion, "Marthy, get your head out of that book and come set the table!"

There was a big window upstairs on the front of the house. I loved to sit in it on a rainy day when we couldn't go out and play, and read a book selected from the shelves in the attic. I would take a lemon or apple and the salt shaker, climb up in the window and read while listening to the rain patter on the roof. Those visits to the attic are treasured memories.