" Read A Newspaper Everyday " by ME
Sometimes I feel like I haven't accomplished much or that I haven't
given enough to others. Thankfully I can recall precious moments when
I did make a difference in someone's life.
In 1997, I was in Baltimore, Md.. I owned a newly renovated
duplex townhouse, on Hollins Street. The area was up and
coming, but still had a few challenges from people throwing
trash on the street, to children who were never taught to respect
The parking lot next to me belonged to a Carry Out.
Baltimore is infamous for it's Carry Outs that serve
chicken baskets, fish and seafood. The place can look like
shit on a stick, but the food can be the best you ever had.
Anyway, this Carry Out had a parking lot bigger than it's
building! The locals had gotten use to filing it up with
trash, drinking and fighting there at night. I put a stop to
that crap immediately by putting in trash cans and calling
the police when I saw them congregating there after hours.
Whenever I caught someone throwing trash on the lot,
instead of walking 2 feet to the trash can, I'd yell at them
for the whole neighborhood to hear! I was planning to sell my
beautiful duplex and I wanted top dollar. You can't make top dollar
if the neighborhood is run down.
To increase the value of my property, I put plants and hedges in
front and turned the back yard into a beautiful garden. The inside was
already fabulous with a 3 story wrought iron staircase, 2 fireplaces,
a total of 5 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a rooftop deck and it was 2 separate
apts or could be a huge home by simply opening one door.
There was also a bench next to the property and a long
cement plant box. I cleaned and stained the bench and put
evergreens and flowers in the plant box. Since the stain
for the bench was oil based, I put a sign on it saying,
"WET PAINT. DON'T SIT HERE".
An hour later, I saw 2 kids looking at the bench. Afraid they
were about to sit down, I came to the door and told them
to read the sign. The girl was about 9 and the boy 10.
She spoke up and said her brother couldn't read the sign.
I said, "Yes he can, it's right there."
"No, I mean, my brother can't read good."
I was stunned. It's always stunning to come across anyone
who can't read. But to see a child like that, is especially
I went over to them to have a chat. I told the boy that
whenever he saw a sign like that, it meant it was dangerous
to sit there. Then I asked him how come he didn't like reading.
He said it was too hard. I asked his sister if she could work
with him, teach him to read better. Both of them looked like that
was the best idea they’d ever heard. They were obviously
very close and he didn’t mind his sister helping him.
After we talked about how easy it would be, I told the boy
to read a newspaper everyday, no matter how hard it
was to do.
"You don't have to pronounce every word correctly or
understand everything you're reading, just read as much
as you can everyday. Ok?"
I didn't think he would, but at least the seed had been
planted. I saw the kids every now and then and asked
how their reading lessons were going. The sister said her
brother was doing well, but he'd do better if he didn't stop
to play so much!
A few months later, I sold my townhouse and was packing
up to leave. I opened the front door to take more boxes to
my truck, when a boy slowly cruised by on his bike. I was
about to speak when he interrupted me.....
"I know, I know, read a newspaper everyday!"
I smiled and waved. Nothing else needed to be said.