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Tools of the Trade: Words

By Rita Sorrentino

toolsMy father kept his tools in the front corner of our cellar. With an old table and a makeshift pegboard, he organized, cared for, and generously shared the items in his mini hardware store. He was fond of telling us that it was important to have the right tool for the task, and with better tools, you could do a better job. My mother loved words. Having quit school during the Depression, she continued to educate herself through reading, studying words, and engaging in conversation. She loved dictionaries, crossword puzzles, and meaningful quotations. She would write out favorite quotes and important words and meanings on scraps of paper and place them around the house for us to find and learn. From both parents, I came to understand how tools reshape our physical space, and words, the tools of language, shape and reshape our thoughts, beliefs, and social interactions. Read more