One time, when I was in elementary school, I had a class assignment that involved tape recording myself reading something. Wait. Maybe it wasn’t an assignment. Maybe I just wanted to record myself reading something. I can’t remember. I do remember, however, and quite vividly so, the giant tape recorder and the book: John Billington: Friend of Squanto by Clyde Robert Bulla.
For the life of me, I have no idea why I selected that book. Perhaps it was my fascination with the Mayflower and the Pilgrims or the incredulousness of someone believing so strongly in something that he would pack up his entire family and belongings, shove them into a sardine-can-of-a-ship, and set sail for months on end for a location that was thousands of miles away and would maybe or maybe not provide him with a better life upon arrival.
The book tells the tale of John Billington, a young boy whose family, along with many others, set out on the Mayflower for the New Land, a place where they would be able to freely practice their beliefs. It follows John’s adventures onboard and, upon arrival at Plymouth Rock, his befriending of Squanto, a super-friendly Native American boy. It’s a children’s book, so, of course, John and Squanto became BFFs and share their Thanksgiving dinner together.
Talk about rose-colored glasses.
For the voice recording, I enlisted the help of two of my brothers to provide sound effects. I would read, and they would illuminate the story with sounds that would more effectively drive the point home. Or, so I thought.
I’d read, “And John’s father walked out of the room, closing the door behind him,” and Joshua would yell, “WHACK!” to simulate the closing door. I’d read about John being disciplined by his father and hear “WHACK!” followed by “WHACKITY WHACKITY WHACKITY WHACK WHACK WHACK!” If John and his family or any other characters were eating, I’d hear “Mmmmmmm, tastes gooooood. Tastes great! Less filling! Tastes great! Less filling!” from Jason. If someone was seasick and throwing up, I’d hear all kinds of vomiting sounds from the peanut gallery.
Which means we had a lot of takes. Because the sound effects would be so outlandish that I would dissolve into laughter and have to start over. And over and over and over. And then, of course, we’d have to play back the portions I’d read previously so that we could listen to whatever had just been said or done. And laugh some more.
Now you know why I’ll never be a news anchor.
Here comes the point of this entirely way-too-long-of-a-post: In the story, one of the sailors spots land. As I read that portion of the text, Joshua yelled, “Land ho! Land, I tell you! I see land!” Intermittently, Jason would say, “It looks small. I thought it would be bigger. It’s really small. Maybe we should go back. I want to go hoooooome.”
Oh yes, there was a re-take after that scene, too. Several actually.
This morning, after Husband and I drove to Buffalo, N.Y., to cross the border and re-cross over the border to “land” in Canada to activate my permanent resident status, I thought of John Billington and my brother’s sound effects: “Land ho! Land, I tell you!”
I thought about how eternally grateful I am that I didn’t have to take a sea vessel from one side of the world to the other to arrive here. I thought about how I’ve always lived in a land where I can freely practice my beliefs, and that I’ll continue to freely practice my beliefs in this “new” land. And, I thought, PRAISE GOD, I’M FINALLY LANDED!
That’s right, folks. I’m now a permanent resident of Canada. And what a journey it’s been! I bet John and Squanto and all of their friends would celebrate with me tonight.
If you’ve never read John Billington: Friend of Squanto, I highly recommend it. Especially if you have young children. In fact, you can purchase it used on Amazon.com for $0.01, which is a steal. Or you can ask my mom to borrow the Book-On-Tape we made all those years ago.
No doubt you’ll find it far more entertaining.