A typically multifarious post from The Daily Growler goes on to discuss burgoos, structuralism, golf, and Mezz Mezzrow, but it starts with a reminiscence of how the Growler learned to speak and write:
I could already “speak” by the time I entered public school; I was taught not to use contractions, especially “ain’t,” a forbidden word in my house. “Is not, young man, and if I catch you saying that word again, I’ll wash your mouth out with Lava soap” [an exceptionally harsh soap said to have been made from volcanic pumice ash] and I was afraid of my folks when it came to proper language; they really would have washed my mouth out with Lava had I tried to get away with using it again.
Also I could write fairly well with pen and ink before I went to 1st grade thanks to my dad’s obsession with fine pens and with the fine penmanship you could become capable of developing using one of those fine “writing instruments,” as my dad called them. He would take one of his beautiful fountain pens, he had a gold-tipped Sheaffer that was a pen among pens to him and cost him an arm and a leg that he taught me to write with […] my dad would take his fine Sheaffer pen and he would show me how to write, like starting with the alphabet, you know, holding my hand and then moving it to form each letter—teaching me to use a square-topped A—my dad’s style—his first name beginning with an A; and then a fancy B, I later think he got from seeing a letter B in German, each letter having to be printed or scripted in his certain ways, on and on, etc. Then he taught me how to sign my name—he could sign his name backwards and upsidedown; sometimes, if you caught him in a show-off mood, he would sign his name forwards and backwards at the same time. Then, using the Good Book of the Christian World of Fables, he taught me grammar and, by golly, I was growling pretty correct sentences when I entered first grade. Besides, all that prepping had caused me to develop into a little smartass know-it-all. I was amazed at how advanced I was with knowledge-seeking tools over those other just-plain kiddie dumbos who competed with me in first grade. I was a little man; they were pencil necked geeks. I knew how to spell words correctly too, another discipline taught to me by my dad who loved to read the dictionary and loved the idea of spelling bees. My dad loved learning to spell, pronounce, and use-in-sentences big words, and of course I knew how to spell “antidisestablishmentarianism” before I was 5.
I learned to write and spell early, too, but I didn’t get to use any fine Sheaffer pens. Now I feel deprived.