The Doorknocker

In my childhood, my older brother and I took turns choosing which story my mother would read to us. Alas, my brother was very competitive and took this to be a challenge. He found his victory by finding the very longest stories, so he could “own” the most nights. I suppose that is why I never forgot his favorite pick, “Prince Prigio,” by Andrew Lang. Although I loved the story, the nights and nights of watching my brother’s smug smile turned the reading into pure humiliation. My brother always bested me and I wanted so much to win, just once.

Then, finally, my chance came. One day I was playing doll house on some living room bookshelves when one of the volumes I was using for a room divider caught my attention because of the swirly pattern made by the page ends. (Do they still do that to books?) I don’t remember the title of the book, but I know I opened it. The text was mostly too advanced for me to understand but I zeroed in on some of the illustrations. What strange and silly people! I could read what was at the top of the surrounding pages: “The Rose and the Ring.” I took it to my mother, who complained at first about the length of the story but finally agreed to read it to us.


That book disappeared from the family library at some point and it was years before I thought about the story again. Sometimes the oddest things bring us back to our childhoods. I have to admit that it wasn’t the Writing Adventure Group topic, but an earlier, professional desperation which made me search for the story again. I was studying to become a teacher and my Reading class professor gave an assignment dealing with fairy tales and their usefulness as teaching tools. I wanted to use something different, and remembered the Thackeray tale.

After days of searching, I finally found a copy in a tiny branch of the public library.  How well did I remember the story? What if the story was unfit for my purpose? Even worse, what if I didn’t even like the story anymore?

Not to worry. The fairy tale was as entertaining and stood the test of time. I wasn’t surprised I’d forgotten some of the intricacies of the plot,  but I was shocked that I’d forgotten the real ending! That kind of made me wonder how effective fairy tales really are at conveying “morals” to children, but I felt the love of story was more important! I could use Thackery’s story for my assignment and more important, I’d been reunited with a piece of my personal history.

~ by mickeyhoffman on May 15, 2009.

8 Responses to “The Doorknocker”

  1. Mickey, how interesting to find that I am not the only one to have that experience with an old favorite. I’ve recently re-read some of the stories my mother read to us as children & think, “Wow, so that’s the ending?” I guess there were times I didn’t like how the tale ended & made up my own instead without realizing it.

    I read to my children a lot when they were younger. They are old enough now that they no longer want to sit still and be read to. They never got into the same stories I loved as a child, so the innocent love of things like “Winnie the Pooh” never made it in my household. (I blame Disney) However, other things like “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Hobbit” have been embraced and loved.

    It’s great you were able to reconnect with something from your youth. Dellani

  2. Don’t get me started on Disney. What he did to the “Wind in the Willows,” makes me want to cry.

  3. I had been looking for years for my favorite book that I would check out once a month from the Book Mobile. ‘The Cat and Mrs. Carey’ I finally found a pair of book sleuths in upstate New York who tracked it down for me.. I cried the day it arrived in the mail…

    Brenda M. ( I found you via the writing adventure… ) Nice post!

    • Those kid’s books are hard to find. I remember one that had beautiful pots of paint in it and I can’t remember one more thing about the book!

  4. I am able to watch movies and tv series over many times because I have the ability to “forget” how they end; thanks for a good read.

  5. I still want to find a book I read when I started Secondary school, aged 11. Can’t remember the title or author which causes problems. I only have a vague memory of the cover. Thought-provoking WAG piece.

    @Iain Martin….my wife can do that as well. Quite frustrating when she refuses to believe she has seen a film before though. Sometimes she really won’t believe me.

  6. Aww, family! Brothers can be a blessing and a pain in the A$$. I just lube the door knob with liquid soap, which he’s alergic too. Between the itch and redness I’ve gotten him back for whatever it was that he did.

    Like I said, aww, family.

    Very nice piece.

  7. Great piece- funny how things aren’t as we remember them to be- even sometimes our favorite children’s works. I recently read “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder- as a kid I thought it would be cool to be snowed in-but as an adult I realized they were starving to death. Kind of creepy. Cheers!

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