Today, my childhood officially ended.
Sally Ride passed away. And Weekly Reader is shutting down.
I feel like I should have smart, thoughtful things to say here, but I really don’t. Sally proved that a girl could do anything and go anywhere. And Weekly Reader proved that school can be really boring, but consistent.
Sorry, but when you’re in 2nd grade and read at an 8th grade level? Weekly Reader isn’t a star in the great educational-engagement sky.
I will say, though, that Weekly Reader represented my first foray into presidential politics. Right before the 1980 presidential election, the Weekly Reader had photos of all 3 candidates on its cover. My kindergarten class voted, and the ballots were tallied.
I had a moment of panic because I had no idea who to vote for. So, I voted for the candidate who looked the most like my grandpa. I distinctly remember this train of thought: Grandpas are smart. Therefore, grandpas make good presidents. Which candidate looks most like a grandpa?
Sadly, my little 5-year-old brain thought that independent John B. Anderson looked most like my grandpa. I was 1 of 2 students to vote for him. A lot of kids must have thought that Ronald Reagan most closely resembled their grandpas.
I worried that since only 1 other kindergartner voted for Anderson, I had voted wrong. Who knew who that other voter was, anyway? It could have been 1 of the paste eaters. So, I figured I needed to expand my political horizons a bit and, you know, learn some stuff.
Since 1980, I’ve sided with the candidate who looked least like my sweet grandpa. Not because that’s still the only criteria I use, but because, well, I guess my grandpa looked like an old-school Republican. And please, don’t make me decide who looks more like my grandpa: Obama or Romney.
So, Weekly Reader? You expanded my horizons and turned me into a political activist. Or, at least someone who tries to place an educated vote. Thanks for that.