Myra & The New Yorker

I have started reading the New Yorker, again. It has actually been about a year. I didn’t just start. It occurred to me that I had been reading a few articles on Facebook, then I went to visit a friend and he asked me if I had read such and such New Yorker article as he tossed the magazine in my direction. That was it! A flash, a memory. The cover art, the cartoons…..ahhhh, it was all so familiar. So now I “get” The New Yorker in the mail every week. I spend at least several hours in the evenings trying to keep up. 

As an eight year old I had been compelled to read the New Yorker to my babysitter. Myra Whitworth was a retired school teacher that lived in a beautiful old town house in Hyde Park. She had a old gray tabby cat named Tiger, as in Tiger from Winny The Pooh and an old rummy sea captain named Vitty. He drank some kind of port…hmmm, I don’t recall exactly. Anyway, my mother admired her greatly for having gone down into coal mining country to teach the miner’s children to read. I guess she was something of a revolutionary in her time.

I have no idea how she became my sitter. At any rate there we were. She had failing eye sight and insisted that I read The New Yorker to her cover to cover. From, “Goings On About The Town” to the bitter end. And it was bitter…or, that is to say that I was bitter. I absolutely HATED reading the New Yorker. UGH! It was awful. We would sit at her table by the front window. Her with her giant magnifying glass and me with a giant dictionary. If there was a word I couldn’t pronounce or didn’t even know she would make me look it up. Then if there was a cartoon I would pass the magazine to her and she would give it a close examination with her spy glass. 

I hadn’t touched a New Yorker magazine in more than fifty years. I was transported. Over the years I had acknowledged that having read to Myra out loud all those weeks and years had really taught me to read, to read out loud and to understand words and language. It was a gift. 


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