Liz's mom gave me Huckleberry Finn on CD for christmas this year (very good choice). Got me remembering all the nights when me, Renae, Mom and Dad all sat (i remember laying more) in the living room while Dad read to us. Mark Twain is what I remember him reading most to us. That and poetry. He was always reading more adult level books outloud to Mom, but that was always in the kitchen. In the living room he read stuff for us all. Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, A Conneticut Yankee in King Authur's Court. We loved it, or at least I did. He did all the voices and dialects. If you have ever read Huck Finn you know the whole book is written in at least 4 distinct types of slang and reading the book out loud forces you to do the voices- but even so Dad is a voices kinda guy. (if you haven't read Huck Finn see me, I'll make you.) A standing joke was that if the phone ran while Dad was in full swing, he would get up and answer it in Nigger Jim's voice: "Wah hello dah! How is you dis fahn ev nin?". Got some good reactions. Dad also read Uncle Remus to us alot, and we always liked that.
It's getting less and less PC to answer the phone that way, but my Dad doesn't know it yet.
The Ghost of Windy Hill was another book he read to us. It's a kids ghost story, but Dad one night couldn't keep himself from reading the whole thing in this Lon Chaney Dracula accent, where everything was drastic and scary and doom filled. It was driving us all crazy, Mom included but he just couldn't stop (except to laugh at himself and at us). Finally Mom suddenly jumped up and said something to the effect of John pleeeeeeease cut it out we are all going mad here! and then, striking this deranged hunchback pose she screeched out a line from the book that we had just passed- a very bland line: "I ate the cookies."- but she used this amazing utterly indiscribable gothic monster voice and it came out:
"IIIIII..... AAAAATE..... THE COOOKIEEES!"
It doesn't come out in print right, but it seemed like about the funniest thing I had ever heard in my life and the 4 of us had this amazing laugh attack for seriously it seemed like half an hour. Fot years after we could convulse each other by reminding each other of that line and the way Mom delivered it.