|News From The Domestic Church|
An Alphabet Can Produce Miracles! –by George Bonin Sr.
The first educational toys given to me by a doting father, were wooden letter-blocks, with which I became quite adept in spelling out simple words, prior to attending kindergarten and grade school.
My dad, CEO for the Boston office of the Texas Oil Company (later to be named Texaco), became a proud father, looking forward to the day I could fashion words into sentences, for he had ambitious plans that would include an erudite son. (He was never to see either, for he died when I was 9.)
On the first day in the Agassiz Street Grade School, I was introduced to manila cards, printed combinations of 26 letters and numbers. Scissors, previously off-limits to childish hands, were handed out to cut the letters apart. The 26 letters, so produced, became the tools in putting letters into words, and, later, words into sentences.
Mastery of those 26 letters was ultimately to become the basis of a writing avocation which would surface 70 years later, and continue to the present day!
In a quiet moment recently, I thought, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish with only an alphabet�26 letters which I had once considered as being only “hen-tracks.” Yet, I have written millions of words, hundreds of columns and poems, and I did it all with the few symbols in the alphabet!
Twenty-six letters! Well, that was all the letters Shakespeare had to work with. Besides, he did not have have a typewriter ir computer! But, the computer doesn’t seem to help. Despite its complexity, I have never come up with anything resembling Hamlet.
I just looked at the keyboard of the computer and thought how many times I’ve hit those keys. If I count all the periods, hyphens and commas, plus the times I’ve had to rewrite my copy, plus all the words I have deleted and written again, I must have socked that keyboard hundreds of millions of times.
What a comforting thought in knowing that I am using the same 26 letters that Washington used in his Farewell Address; that Lincoln used these same ideographs in composing the Gettysburg Address; that John F. Kennedy composed his Profiles in Courage with those letters’ that Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt produced profound wisdom and truth to the world in putting 26 letters into words that are part of our history.
Yes, I feel that I am in distinguished company, as day after day I’ve gone on, year after year, page after page, slamming those same 26 little keyboard letters, making different things with them, sentences, paragraphs, articles, stories, poems, and eventually, who knows books?
Stand in any library, and see the vast array of books marching across the shelves. Those 26 letters let you march across the Alps with Hannibal, let you enter the world of Stanley and Livingston, the battlefields of Napoleon and Wellington, and even to understand the evil of Hitler and Stalin. Try to imagine how many billions of words there are in all those volumes! Try to imagine all the words written in English from Shakespeare’s day until now. Yet, all those books are composed from only 26 letter combinations!
Once I heard a well-known author say to a group of people, “It’s a simple thing, writing. All you do is take a few letters and make a lot of words. You put down a word, then add other words to it.” He paused, his eyes twinkling: The problem is in getting the words in the right places. And I might add, the same for letters.”
Pick up a dictionary. See the millions of subjects and words that you find. But the volume of words, and the subjects within, have all been shaped by a few small characters.
Even with little formal education, if one has the ability to absorb the ABCs of those little letters, they have the ability to change peoples’ directions in life. One can read “how-to-“books; learn new trades or avocations; learn to sew, learn crafts, or even other languages. Self-education books are numerous in libraries; look for them.
Look into the Bible, an English translation. Here within one cover is God’s message to man; here is the story of the Savior, and the Kingdom of Heaven. Here are the words of the Golden Rule The Ten Commandments the words of the prophets. If we could absorb completely the messages expressed in those same 26 letters, the world would become a better place wars would cease, and the brotherhood of man would not be an idle word or dream. Such a momentous book, and all of it presented with only 26 different marks.
Now, can you consider it amazing what one can do with only 26 letters? (And to former Collyer Wire employees: Use a few of those 26 letters to write to Carol Kelly, or call 724-9064 to make reservations for our annual reunion, later this fall.)
© copyright George Bonin Sr. all rights reserved. Used with kind permission from the author. For these and other stories visit mr. Bonin’s website http://home.thirdage.com/Writing/scriberg85/
© copyright 2005 e-Catholic2000