Love Of Words Led To Career As English Teacher
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We're hoping to persuade you there are two holidays this week. The first is Thanksgiving. The second, the day after Thanksgiving, is new. We're calling it the National Day of Listening. It's your chance to sit down and talk with a loved one, the way that people do with our StoryCorps project.
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INSKEEP: Here's how I interviewed my mom and dad. My brothers helped to come up with questions about how my parents grew up in an Indiana farm town. My mom, Judy Inskeep, remembers the house where she spent much of the 1940s.
Ms. JUDY INSKEEP (Retired English Teacher): We moved there during the war, and we could not get electricity in the house because you could not get the cut(ph) wiring to run up to the house because it was back a long lane.
INSKEEP: No radio?
Ms. INSKEEP: No radio. But we played a lot of games and did a lot of reading. And if you don't have something, you don't miss it.
INSKEEP: The other thing we're interested in, Mom, was the fact that you went to college. Because we were trying to think - your parents didn't go to college, did they?
Ms. INSKEEP: No.
INSKEEP: Well, it would have been easy for you not to go to college.
Ms. INSKEEP: Well, my mom wanted to go to college. She got a scholarship to go to college, as a matter of fact. She wanted to be an English teacher and a writer. But, you know, she was second oldest of 12 children, and there was no money.
INSKEEP: Even with the scholarship?
Ms. INSKEEP: Even with the scholarship because it was not - it didn't pay everything. So I don't know. Education was just always important to her and my dad. My dad didn't go to high school. He went two weeks to high school and quit so he could help his mother with his younger brother and sisters because his father had died. They just saw the need that he was going to have to earn some money to help the family.
He didn't go to high school, but he was very intelligent. And I remember I was in algebra class, I was having trouble with this problem, and he worked the problem for me. And he never had algebra. So, you know, I just realized that he was a pretty smart man.
INSKEEP: So was it assumed that you would go to college even though your parents had not gone to college?
Ms. INSKEEP: Well, I don't know that they assumed that we needed to go to college. I think they hoped we would. We didn't have a lot of extra money, but they saw that it was important to make sure that I got through college.
INSKEEP: How did it happen, of all the things that you could study, that you ended up becoming the English teacher that your mom had wanted to be?
Ms. INSKEEP: Well, I love English. I just - I liked working with words. I was not very good at writing like she was, but...
INSKEEP: Oh, she was a better writer than you?
Ms. INSKEEP: She used to tell stories about when she was in school. She used to write a story, a chapter every night, and then the next morning on the bus she would read it to the kids. And they would wait eagerly for the next chapter of her story that she was writing.
INSKEEP: Oh, my goodness. That's a side of her I never imagined in all the time that I knew her. Well, she must have been very proud of you that you...
Ms. INSKEEP: Well, I think she was.
INSKEEP: Did she ever say how she felt about the fact that she'd wanted to be an English teacher and then she got to help you be one?
Ms. INSKEEP: No. No. She never influenced me any way. But I suppose I got that desire from her.
INSKEEP: Judy Wright(ph) from Sheridan, Indiana, became an English teacher. She married another young teacher, Roland Inskeep, and one of their sons went on to host this program. Maybe I got my desire from them, the desire to learn something and pass it on.
We'll hear more conversations all week as we prepare for what we call the National Day of Listening. Tomorrow, Renee Montagne tracks down one of the first people she ever interviewed. You can hear other NPR National Day of Listening stories at our Web site, npr.org.
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