Banks County Opinions...

MARCH 10, 2004


By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
March 10, 2004

The untold pain of comb loss
In case you somehow missed it, over the years my once brilliant choice of column topics has somehow boiled down to nothing more than the trivial and mundane concerns of my daily life. It’s boring. And it’s pitiful. Like this column — the one about losing my comb.
I have no idea if young guys carry combs these days. After all, one third of them have shaved heads, one third of them have spiked hair, and the other third is experimenting with a retro-sixties look that doesn’t include combing at all.
But 30 plus years ago, guys carried combs in their back pocket at all times. They were usually inexpensive plastic jobs that were indestructible. In fact, chances were good that you’d lose your comb within thirty days of purchase, buy another, and thereby insure continued employment for half the population of Hong Kong.
For some reason, though, I never lost my comb. Although I experienced a little guilt over periodic declines in the global comb market, holding onto my comb became another one of my many bizarre rituals.
My comb was twisted, gnarly, and bent, but after all these years in my back pocket, it fit my behind perfectly. In the past, I have misplaced my comb, lost track of it from time to time, and in the throes of a misguided new hair style, even disdained it temporarily. But I’ve never lost it. Until now.
We were on a trip. It was on one of those quick overnight excursions where everybody runs around in a big panicky fizz to get somewhere, then runs around in a bigger fizz upon arrival, topping it all off with a monumental fizz upheaval while getting ready to leave.
It was the leaving part that led to my unpardonable sin. In my haste, I left my comb in the motel room and didn’t realize it until we were all the way back home. That’s when I found out that there are three separate and distinct stages to Comb Loss: despair, blame, and hair care ambivalence.
For me, the despair part began while unpacking the car. As a part of my father/husband role, I supervise the unpacking. And to get everyone in the mood, I like to go in the house first and fix my hair like a game show host and then get everyone to play “Wheel of Luggage.” I was in the makeup room when I realized that my little buddy of thirty years was gone.
In the short run, I think the protracted crying fit was good for me. I needed to get it out. Of course, my wife and daughters were puzzled by my behavior. But that’s only because women have never been capable of developing a lasting, one-on-one comb relationship. It has something to do with buying hair care products in bulk quantities.
Without even understanding what was happening, I transitioned into the blame phase. That mostly consisted of a thirty minute telephone tirade with the motel owner trying to explain why he should go dumpster diving to find my comb which had been clumsily discarded by an obviously ill-trained housekeeper. As I recall, he was bald and thus could have cared less.
That’s when things spiraled downhill. After sitting in my room for several hours with the lights out and the blinds drawn waiting on the Comb Sales segment on the Obsessive-Compulsive Shopping Network, my wife finally said she’d had enough and left.
She came back ten minutes later and flipped a new .99 cent black plastic comb in my lap. “Now, can you stop carrying on over something as trivial and mundane as losing a stupid comb and get on with your life?”
It’s odd, but sometimes it seems like I get my best column ideas from my wife.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
March 10, 2004

A lifelong love of reading
In the past week, area schools and libraries have been celebrating Dr. Seuss’ 100th birthday (March 2), as well as reading in general for “Read Across America.”
The idea is to promote interest in reading, as well as an awareness for parents of the importance of reading – not only the importance of having a child who reads, but the critical need to read to children at a very early age.
While the National Education Association (NEA), uses Dr. Suess’ birthday and its annual “Read Across America” effort to focus attention on motivating children to read on that day or during that particular week, libraries, schools and parents are challenged to make reading a daily activity — a necessity, yes, but hopefully a beloved pastime — for children of all ages. In addition to providing materials for Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the NEA also provides “resources and keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year.”
While there may be all kinds of views on the “best way” to teach reading, the bottom line, as expressed in the NEA’s “official reading policy” is that “reading is the gateway to learning in all content areas and essential for achieving high standards.”
The NEA launched its effort in 1998, but studies on reading have been ongoing for decades.
In the mid-1980s, a national Commission on Reading developed a report “Becoming a Nation of Readers.”
Among its findings was a statement about the importance of reading aloud to children, both at home and in the classroom, throughout the school years, in order to not only teach children to read, but to help them to enjoy it so that they will continue as readers beyond graduation and into adulthood: “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
In The Read-Aloud Handbook (© 2001), Jim Trelease comments on reading, and how to get better at it, saying,
“It boils down to a simple, two-part formula:
1.The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it.
2.And the more you read, the more you know; and the more you know, the smarter you grow.”
In addition to forging a stronger bond between a child and parent or caregiver, a “Read to Me” education website says reading aloud to children “helps them develop stronger language skills, learn new words, learn to ask questions about the story, learn to make connections between pictures and words, develop listening skills, develop a lifelong love of reading and learn that reading is fun and valuable.” Reading educators also say that children who see their parents reading have more tendency to read themselves.
In my own history, I have quite a few readers to thank for my love of reading. My mother, my aunt and my sister are all readers and they read to me and provided me (and continue to provide me) with books.
My preschool teacher, my kindergraten teacher and the librarian at my elementary school read to me and my class – I particularly remember the Jefferson Elementary School librarian reading The Boxcar Kids aloud a few chapters at a time as I wondered what would happen next.
My sister and I were frequent visitors to the Jefferson Public Library when we were growing up. My middle school librarian at Maysville Elementary School encouraged my interest in reading and my subsequent interest in writing. And in high school, I continued to visit the school library, as well as to check out books at public libraries. And beyond that, I read, read, read, every chance I got.
Yes, I am a lifelong reader. Yes, I love to read – it is one of the pleasures of my life and I very rarely pass through a day without reading something, at some time. But would I have been such an avid reader, a “book addict,” without an early introduction to books and words and stories? I don’t know.
A good place to start is the local library (see page 1C for details on storytime). Librarians can give suggestions on age-appropriate books and the “good” books, and the reading programs and accompanying activities are fun.
So Dr. Seuss’ birthday and “Read Across America” have come and gone. They’ll be back next year but, in the meantime, there are a lot of books out there.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor for The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
The Banks County News
Homer, Georgia
Telephone: (706) 367-5233 Fax: (706) 367-8056

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