Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Harrison, AR, USA
Men of Iron
When I was a boy of about 9 or 10, it had become more and more difficult to trust the people in the world I had been born into. At about that age I began discovering other worlds, in books from the library. Unbelieveably, they were free. I could check books out, take them home, step into them, and no one inside or outside of them could hurt me. Every great story ended much too soon.
Books were my alternate realities. Books were universes, full and rich, created just for me, at a time when I desperately needed undiscovered planets to explore, secret caves to hide in, rivers to raft down, rabbit holes to fall into, and people to trust -- friends who did not beat me up, loved ones who did not beat me down.
I discovered books and reading with a passion that was desperate. I was a little kid that no one understood, or wanted to understand, and by 10 years old, I finally had been convinced I wasn't worth the effort.
Books saved my life. I didn't simply embrace them, I jumped inside and begged them to embrace me. Good or bad, the characters in books were at least trustworthy, and they could always be understood. When I ran with these characters, explored with them, conquered with them, had close calls (yet always escaped) with them, during these times I believed that I was not only worthwhile, but invincible. I returned to this world of harm and shame with great reluctance, looking forward to the time when I could again escape to the safety and adventure of my books.
Somehow this morning, somewhere on the 'net, I ran across this book, Men of Iron by Howard Pyle. I must have read it five times over one summer, I think I was about ten years old. This book taught me things about chivalry and valor that my father never had time or inclination to. It taught me values of honesty and trustworthiness that my mother just couldn't beat into me. It taught me satisfactions of achievement that no teacher had been able to ridicule me towards. It taught me that good guys could persevere, that stone towers could be escaped from, that black knights could be toppled, and indeed, that dragons could be slain.
I have remembered and thought about this book often over the many years of my age -- for this book, perhaps more than any other, helped me get through the age of being ten.
The Bad Ted
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