In Freshman English we are reading To Kill a Mockingbird and I am really enjoying a book I overlooked in my youth. When I see the buildings of the story and the childhood adventures I get transported back to the days I spent in Tacoma with my grandmother off McKinley Avenue. The times of light cars (Model A Fords, for example), unpaved streets, and no TV where kids played actual games and invented their own interactions with the neighbors across the street are things I find I miss. And there are those grade school discoveries that all seemed so enlightening at the time as we developed a sense of larger community.
Sitting in school today seems to underscore many of the truths Lee so skillfully develops in the complex portrayal of small town life in her South. The intolerance, the judging, the innocent discovery that the world of adults as well as kids is always not so nice seems as valid now as it was then.
I ponder, being now the age of my departed grandmother who was my guide, one would think we would have moved beyond being just neighbors. What is there about learning to live with the people around us that we just find so darn difficult? Is it merely the compression of time and space or is it more?
What do you think?
John Alfred Riebli