Reading isn’t just for kids; Manitowoc hosts community event in Shady Grove

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Manitowoc Crane rolled out a crane for visitors to explore during the Touch a Truck Family Carnival. Hands-on experiences were offered for the kickoff of a two-month celebration of reading, sponsored by Franklin-Fulton Reads.

It is never too late to learn how to read. Thomas W. Geiman, 61, is walking and talking proof of that. He learned the skill through classes at Lincoln Intermediate Unit No.12. The LIU Franklin County Literacy Council was one of the sponsors of the Touch a Truck Family Carnival Saturday at Manitowoc Crane. Geiman was on hand to promote reading by all ages.

"We want to get people interested in literacy," he said. "To keep kids in school so they don't have to be 44 years old when they learn how to read."

That was his story. Geiman passed through the Chambersburg school system and graduated with a first-grade reading level. The teachers were aware of his lack of ability but didn't provide specialized help. He figured out how to fake the skill but said of the educators, "They didn't realize I had a whole lifetime ahead of me to learn."

Geiman worked with food distribution companies until retirement. He told his first employer, "I can't read but I'm willing to learn how to work."

He associated images with words and got the job done. In 1994 the company sent him to school. Volunteers taught Geiman how to read, and he is still taking lessons. He also worked in the computer industry, and found online reading the best venue for him.

Emboldened by the doors opened as his reading skills improved, Geiman joined Toastmasters International, and achieved all of his public speaking goals. He became an active volunteer with the Literacy Council, helping out at events and fundraisers, and talks wherever LIU coordinator Marie Steinbacher sends him.

He just enrolled in a creative writing class at Shippensburg University, curious how he will do in another venture.

Touch a Truck

Families from the area stopped in Shady Grove to investigate lots of motorized vehicles during the carnival. It was the first event during a two-month community reading celebration hosted by Franklin-Fulton Reads. The initiative is a collaboration of non-profit organizations to promote reading and literacy. Children hopped on cranes, crawled into delivery trucks, sat in driver seats, honked horns and got a close peek at commercial vehicles of all kinds.

"Our theme 'From Here to There' is about the roads and trails of the region," said Franklin County Library System executive director Bernice Crouse. FFR activities through November 10 highlight what hikers, bikers and motorists can discover in the two counties. Programs are scheduled in Chambersburg, McConnellsburg, Fort Loudon, Waynesboro and at Cowan's Gap. Information is available at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library.

Crouse led a group on a story walk, stopping at illustrations from the book Grandaddy's Highway, written by Chambersburg resident Harriet Diller. The story covered scenes a truck driver viewed while driving Route 30 across the United States.