Thursday, October 12, 2006

100 years old and a man of letters

Saturday's Globe and Mail, had an article by ROY MacGREGOR about 100 year old Clarence Brazier.
SPRUCEDALE, ONT. When 100-year-old Clarence Brazier decided, at 93, that he'd have to learn to read his junk mail if he ever hoped to shop for himself, it was a matter of necessity — just as taking over the family farm had been when he was barely old enough to tie his shoes let alone shoe a horse.

He had spent most of his life in Timmins, Ont., where he and his wife Angela had retired to their own farm. They were married 64 years, but when she died after a long illness, he suddenly had no one to keep his great secret any longer...

...remembers those first months with the primary readers.

“His eyes would actually sparkle when he'd recognize a word. It was just as I'd seen with my students, but it was also kind of funny, too. I was seeing this same thing in my father — and he was acting just like the children I'd taught.”

From junk mail he moved to primary readers, and from primary readers to children's books and then into youth novels.

From fiction he headed into non-fiction, and today sits surrounded by books on history, books on mining and logging, books on Northern Ontario and hockey and Canada. The newspaper is at his feet, the various sections dropped as he has read through them.

He reads at least two hours a day. Often, at night, he will wake and read himself back to sleep.

His life has changed dramatically. No longer hiding his inability to read, he now brags about it. He goes to the area seniors' homes — “visiting with the young lads,” he says — and tells those who are well into their 60s and 70s and do not bother with books that. “They've got 30 years of good reading ahead of them.”

“I can't hear the television or listen to the radio to keep current with events and politics,” he says.

“Had I not learned to read, I believe I would have slowly become isolated from the world beyond my home.”

Instead, as Clarence moves into his second century, that world is opening up.

This fall, Canada Post presented him with the National Literacy Award for 2006.

At age 100, he has just become the poster boy for the very thing he spent nearly a century avoiding.
It's nice to see someone who doesn't give up. Someone who is not afraid to step out and learn new things... no matter what their age. Congratulations Clarence.

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