Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Self on the Shelf, 3

Oops--almost forgot to finish this little series of posts about a weird shelf in my study. Here we go ...

At the right, in the back, is a small framed photograph of my maternal grandfather, G. Edwin Osborn (1897-1965). The G stands for George, a name he so thoroughly disliked that I don't think I ever heard anyone use it--in his presence or not. He was Edwin to everyone. Actually, he was Dr. Osborn to most people. A minister of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Church), he had gone to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he studied in 1928-29, when my Mom was nine. She still--now at 97--loves Scotland and talks fondly about what she considers one of the best times of her life.

Thanks to Ancestry.com, I just found the date they arrived in England: September 11, 1928. They arrived back in NYC on December 23, 1929, aboard the Lapland--and I was able to find several photos on Google. Here's one.

I knew my Osborn grandparents so well because when I was born (Nov. 11, 1944), my mom, older brother (Richard), and I were living in the apartment above their house at 1609 E. Broadway; Enid, Oklahoma. Dad was overseas for the Big One, and I would not see him for quite a while. When he returned, we lived near them most of the time (with exceptions: a year and a half in Amarillo, TX; a year in Norman, OK) until I was about twelve, at which time we moved to Hiram, Ohio, where my father would teach at Hiram College. We saw the Osborns only occasionally after that.

Grandpa Osborn served as minister of the University Place Christian Church in Enid--and on the faculty of the Bible College at the now-defunct Phillips University there. He published books and pamphlets (all on Christian subjects); his son, Ronald, would follow in his footsteps. (Grandpa's books you can still buy, used, online (link to list and prices).

Grandpa was a great supporter of all three Dyer boys. He got Richard interested in opera and classical music (Richard, who would go on to become the classical music critic for the Boston Globe for many years); he came to my baseball games and cheered as if he knew what he was seeing. He adored all of us. And we, him.

Grandma and Grandpa retired in Columbia, MO, where they lived in a stages-of-care facility, the Lenoir Memorial Home (at the time, a Disciples of Christ facility). When he died on September 30, 1965, I was about to turn 21, in my senior year at Hiram College, and I knew I had sustained one of the greatest of losses: a man who loved me without reservation. People who feel that way about you are among life's greatest rarities.

Memorial Park Cemetery
Columbia, Missouri
And, by the way, as I type these words, I am sitting in Grandpa's old desk chair that once was in his home-office. And, of course, my middle name is Osborn--as is our son's.

In front of Grandpa is a ceramic piece of I acquired in Amsterdam when I went there during my spring break in 1992 because I was teaching The Diary of Anne Frank to my eighth graders, and I wanted to visit the Franks' hiding place--and as many other relevant places around Europe as I could. It is a piece of Delftware, and it sits on my shelf, a reminder of what we are capable of: great horror, great beauty.

In front of that is a small ink bottle which I acquired ...? Can't remember. But I'm pretty sure I got it during the years I was teaching Shakespeare, and I would show students how people had to write before ballpoints and word-processors. Somewhere is a quill pen ...?

Finally, at the far right are novels by Tom Perrotta, one of my favorites. My first awareness of him came when Joyce and I saw the film Election in 1999. (Link to trailer for that film.) Since then, I've read all of Perrotta's novels with great pleasure (got to review The Abstinence Teacher (2007) for the Cleveland Plain Dealer). So ... Perrotta titles fill out the rest of the shelf (there are some signed ones, there--including Election!) ...

... and so ends my over-long journey along one of the oddest shelves in our house ...

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