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Story 02: Education of a Dropout

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Sidebar: Bookbinding Guild

Written by Mike Spock

An unexpected break occurred in that pivotal fifth grade year when I finally learned to read, a way to understand how it was possible to get on top of things and have them become your own. We were studying the Middle Ages. During the three or four hours of arts and crafts every week, each of us had to join as apprentices to a guild. Dave Lang and I chose bookbinding. For the next year and a half we learned how to make and marble papers, sew registers, bind covers to folios. We visited Scribners where books were printed and bound. The gold leaf titles pressed into the covers seemed especially exotic. Ironically, I began to make the books I could barely read. I had the books even if I could not possess their content. The next fall we learned that there would be a journeymen's examination. A problem would be presented and our portfolios reviewed. I passed the exam, and Dave didn't. For the first time there was a glimpse of the notion of mastery and what it took to work hard and see things begin to fall into place, to own something as your own, as Sailor Sam never had been. I still have some of the work we created.

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