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MY MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER, Grandma Page, was up at three-thirty or four o’clock in the morning to bake and churn and get ready for the cotton fields on our family farm in Bloomington. At night, after all the cooking and sewing, there was energy left for her reading. “Come, Danny, I’ll read to you,” she would say. That was enough to make me come running. It meant story time, and story time was most often Bible time. Grandma Page knew all of my favorite Bible stories and catered to my taste for the great deeds they recorded, especially those of Joshua at the Battle of Jericho. Meaning no disrespect to her religious beliefs, I should clarify that her Bible offerings were meant less to serve the cause of piety than to serve our need for entertainment; Joshua was my Sylvester Stallone, I guess. I’ve often thought of those evenings when Grandma Page read me Bible stories by the light of a coal-oil lamp. She showed me that books were filled with dreams and excitement, faith and wisdom: My education began as I sat in her lap, embraced between Grandma and the Bible. Now that I am older, I suspect she may have been, in her way, even more heroic than Joshua.
Dan Rather anchors The CBS Evening News. He was born and raised in Houston and graduated from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville. This anecdote is adapted from Pearls of Wisdom From Grandma (Regan Books/HarperCollins Publisher, 1997).