For many years growing up, we did not have a TV. Dad thought television was “just a fad” and in lieu of TV, he would tell us wonderful and amazing stories about things like living in the jungle in deepest, darkest Africa. Since Dad had never actually been to Africa, you might think that the stories would lack details, but you would be wrong.
He loved the concept of quick sand and we rapidly learned that the main character was likely to encounter quick sand sometime during the nightly storytelling. Dad was very dramatic and when the main character (Dad) fell into the quick sand, it was up to us to rescue him. We would tug and pull and, just as the quick sand was about to encompass his throat, we would pull him out. My sister Lindy and I learned to be the rescuers and that if we just worked hard enough together we could accomplish anything.
Another story Dad told was about a unicorn in the garden. It was a magical story and like Dad’s African adventures, I assumed he had made it up. I came across the story of “The Unicorn in the Garden” by James Thurber when I was in college, and I quickly checked the copyright to see if he had stolen my dad’s story.
Instead I discovered that James Thurber had written this delightful short story many years before I was born. Although my dad did not write “The Unicorn in the Garden,” his telling of it would have made James Thurber proud. If you have never experienced this enchanting story, please check it out. You will be glad you did. It is among Thurber’s fables in the book Fables for Our Time.
Some people might think that my sister and I were deprived by having no television. Instead, we experienced a marvelous world fueled by Dad’s imagination. How many TV programs can you recall seeing as a child? Dad created a wonderful collection of stories that we enjoyed hearing (and acting out) over and over. He made our childhood magical at the same time Mother was making it Far from Normal.