Monday, November 2, 2009


I keep this metal sign on a bulletin board in my office. I find “PUSH” a useful reminder when it comes to teaching and reading and writing: not to give up, not to settle, not to quit. PUSH, to be interesting, to be better, to do more.

I bought this sign in the 1980s at Benedict’s Well-Worth, a variety store that was going out of business. The price was 88¢. The lethal corners, dowdy lettering, and ancient-looking price sticker on the back suggest that this sign was already many years old when I found it. Also in my collection, from the same source: “NO Admittance” and “ROOMS FOR RENT.”

For anyone who doesn’t remember variety stores: they were wonderful places, literally. One could find all sorts of notions and sundries there. As a kid in Brooklyn, I bought my first Silly Putty at a variety store — Woolworth’s (the name that Benedict’s was aping). I remember buying Christmas presents for my grandparents at Woolworth’s: handkerchiefs, combs, pocket mirrors. I remember the colorful thread display and candy counter. I must have been six or seven.

I wish I had the “PULL” that once must have been for sale alongside “PUSH.” PULL too would be a good reminder for teaching and reading and writing: to draw all one can from the available material.

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