Lesson Four : This Life
1.It is the first time I have ever been on a stage-I don??t even know what a stage looks like ?Cbut I??m up there now and I open this?? script,?? but I don??t know what it is. The director tells me to read the part of ??John.?? Everywhere I see ??John?? I must read everything under that.
2.Then I see him sitting in a front seat staring at me with the strangest look. He says. ??Get off the stage?? I say, ??What do you mean??? He says, ??Just come on down off that stage and stop wasting my time. You??re no actor. You don??t even know how to read.??
3.I leave and walk off down 135th Street saying to my self,??You can hardly read. You can??t be an actor and you??re not able to read.?? I begin to think about what he??s said to me. Now I Know I can??t read too well. Here I am eighteen years of age, and if I live to be eighty, for the next sixty-two years I??m going to be a dishwasher. I??m not going to be able to make people notice me.
4.During the next six month, I spent as much times possible reading. One of the restaurants I worked in during that period was in Astoria, long Island. The work was hard and heavy, but we would have most the dishes cleared away by 11:00 or 11:15 p.m. It was my custom to sit out near the kitchen door and read the newspaper.
5.At the waiters ??table there was a old Jewish man who used to watch me trying go read that paper. I asked him one night what a word meant and he told me. I thanked him and went back to my paper. He went on watching me for a few seconds and then said ??do you run across a lot of words you don??t understand??? I said ??A lot-because I??m just beginning to learn to read well,?? and he said, ??I??ll sit with you here and work with you for a while.??
6.So at about eleven every night when he sat sown for his meal, I would come out of the kitchen and sit down next to him and read articles from the front page of the paper. When I ran into a word I didn??t know (and I didn??t know half of article, become any word longer than a couple of syllables gave me trouble) he explained the meaning of the word and gave me the pronunciation. Then he??d send me back to the sentence so I could understand the word in context.
7.Then I would take the paper away with me, armed now with the meaning of those words, and reread and reread the article so that the meaning of those words would get locked into my memory. Every evening we did
8.I stayed there at that job for about five or six weeks and learned from him a way to study, and then I went off to other jobs. I have never been able to thank him properly because I never knew then what an enormous contribution he was making to my life. He was wonderful, and a little bit of him is in everything I do.
9.After that, I always looked for the meaning of words, and when I ran into words I couldn??t pronounce and didn??t understand, I would work on them until I began to understand. I would keep going over and over the sentence they were in, and after a while I would begin to get an idea of what the word meant just by repeating the sentence. That became a habit, as did all the other things he left me with.