StoryCorps / Ronald Clark and Jamilah Clark

Ronald Clark and Jamilah Clark #

As a child, I always thought I was rich, and one day at the dinner table, I said something like, ’I’m so glad we’re rich.’ And my father almost choked.

  • choke (verb.) - If you choke, or if something chokes you, you stop breathing because something is blockingyour throat.

And then they offered my dad the position as the library custodian.

  • custodian (noun. C formal) - a person with responsibility for protectingor taking care of something or keeping something in good condition

In some libraries, it’s all chewing gum wrappers and dust. My dad’s library, you saw nothing but wax. He would even wax the tops of the bookshelves. And when you walked up those stairs and looked down on the book stacks, they gleamed.

  • wrapper (noun. C) - a piece of paper, plastic, or other material thatcovers and protects something
  • dust (noun. U) - dry dirt in the form of powder that coverssurfaces inside a building, or very small dry piecesof soil, sand, or other substances
  • wax (noun. U) - a solid substance containing a lot of fat thatbecomes soft and melts when warm
  • gleam (verb.) - to produce or reflect a small, bright light

At first, I was kind of ashamed of it as a child because you always want to be normal.

  • ashamed (adj. after verb.) - feeling guilty or embarrassed about something you have done or about a quality inyour character