By Jo Ann of Along The Way
Along the way I’ve been enjoying sharing with interested others some of what I’ve learned. More importantly, or at least equally importantly, I’ve benefited from acquiring new information generously shared in many ways by others.
An actual experience, or a real-life event, is a basic concrete way I initially began to learn, as I recall one story my mother told me that occurred when I was only a toddler.
Sitting on a blanket under a peach tree’s shade where she had placed me while she went back inside the house for a moment, she heard me begin to loudly cry. Rushing to the kitchen door, she observed I was grasping in my little hands a fallen ripened peach.
Soon she noticed what was attracting me were cute little flying insects crawling around on the fruit’s juice-dripping bruised flesh. She saw that I was picking off between my thumb and forefinger what were bees that were angrily stinging me. That was one of my early concrete experiences from which I have learned to never pick up live bees.
My education became more advanced through different learning means as I became older. Observing others, listening to advice, reading are some of the ways in which I’ve accumulated information to help me adapt and survive in this topsy-turvy world in which we live.
That’s not to say I was always wise enough to learn from first-time experiences or followed advice, but I generally eventually learned, sooner or later. Those examples would be stories of a more complex nature, but following is one of those advanced variety, combining observation, and information from another, my mother.
This experience occurred during my highly anticipated first train ride. I was elementary school-age when my mother and I departed on a long overnight train trip through several states. We were traveling to a city to stay overnight with relatives we’d never met in the hope that my older brother would be granted a pass off his nearby U.S. Navy base to see us that Christmas holiday.
My brother was awaiting deployment to an undisclosed military location overseas during WWII – the unspoken concern we had was whether we would ever see him again. We learned of his Pacific Theater submarine service assignment in Australia when he returned home following discharge at the war’s conclusion.
Traveling at night, Mother had expected I would soon tire, then fall asleep in our coach seats – lulled by the repetitive numbing drum of train rail sounds, vibrations and the car’s rocking motion. The train stopped periodically to take on new passengers and allow others to exit.
One segment of the trip was somewhat eventful when a rather colorful woman boarded, whose behavior intrigued me more than sleeping did. She was lurching about from seat to seat, laughing, conversing and extending friendship somewhat loudly to numerous, primarily male passengers, before finally leaving the train at another stop.
The conductor, after toning her down a bit several times, eventually felt the need to reassure my mother that the woman made this trip regularly most weekends, so he knew of her and we shouldn’t feel alarmed.
The explanation for the woman’s erratic behavior my mother ultimately gave me was essentially words to the effect that this somewhat respectable-looking woman was a “lady of the night” seeking a companion. I don’t recall if anyone left the train with the woman.
Years later, especially after becoming a parent myself, recalling those years in the 1940’s when so many subjects were taboo for speaking about aloud, I chuckle to myself about the likelihood this was not a real-life teaching event opportunity every parent would aspire to explaining to their child. This was definitely a memorable entertaining learning experience for this little red-haired girl.
New experiences have presented me with prime learning events throughout my life. Everything was new to me when I was first born, but gradually became more familiar when encountered again. Anything new or different, contrasting with what I’ve subsequently come to know, has become more pronounced, attracting my attention.
EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.