Mary Ellen Graham has lived in Dayton her entire life. She grew up on the East side, attended the University of Dayton, and worked as a middle school teacher for 34 years, retiring in 2001. And she loves reading. Today on Senior Voices, Mary Ellen shares her story with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Nancy Messer.
Mary Ellen Graham: Oh, I have lots of stories, I guess, and a lot of them are actually related to reading and enjoying reading, because I mentioned before that my family was German, and working hard was a very highly praised quality to have, and my mother made sure that we were always busy.
And when I got old enough to read, and I loved reading, and I discovered that she couldn’t find me if I took my library book and went under the glider on the front porch and then she discovered my hiding place and I remember the first time she saw me, I think was maybe six or seven, and she said, “Don’t you have any work to do?” She was a very loving, nurturing kind of mom, but it’s just that you had to keep busy, and every day you had to accomplish something.
In fact even to this day I’m in a book club and I ended up being a language arts teacher. I spent my life, actually, reading, in one way or another. My mother grew up on a farm, both my parents did, and they both dropped out of school at 8th grade, they were needed to help on the farm. So even though they didn’t have an education, either one of them, really, but they were very supportive of and they always emphasized learning to all three of us.
Read, read, read, I think that is so important, and to read both sides of an issue. Read, read, read, and use your library. If you don’t have books at home, come to the library, it’s all here and it’s free. I would not have been able to read to the extent that I could because we didn’t have any money, you didn’t buy books, books were something you either got in school or you got them at the library and it’s a wonderful opportunity. There’s no place you can’t go, there’s nothing you can’t learn, there’s no experience you can’t have, and books are probably one of the best of having that, getting yourself to start there.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Javis Heberling. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation. Jocelyn Robinson coordinated this series as part of Community Voices.