We ate dinner by candlelight, and my friends asked if our electricity was turned off.
Around that table—for an hour every night—we had conversation, stories, demonstrations of the solar system using an orange and a candle, recited poetry. My parents had wine with dinner, and we even had to grind our own pepper! Classical music played in the background.
No TV graced our living room. After dinner we all read books. One Christmas, I was given a book about mountain climbing, Banner in the Sky. I read until bedtime. It was so exciting, I couldn’t put it down. So, I read by the hall light. When it was turned off, I read by flashlight under the covers. When that was taken away, I read by the streetlight. When I was caught, my dad finally took the book. I got up hours later to go to the bathroom. And what did I discover? My dad was reading the book!
And then there were the mountains—weekends, holidays, vacations, summers—we escaped! We camped, hiked, climbed mountains, bird watched, studied alpine-botany, backpacked as a family in the time when this was the reserved world of fishermen and boy-scouts. I hiked with a book in hand, so when we rested, I could read. And we all carried books to read on rainy days.
My parents were both teachers, I became a teacher too, and married a teacher. When my dad had a sabbatical leave, we traveled across Europe living in a VW bus. The travel bug infected us, and we’ve never been cured.
We became a multigenerational family of writers, painters, photographers, travelers, mountain lovers, readers, and this world has been shared by my parents with their children and, later, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
After 70 years of marriage, my dad died in 2011 at 95. My mother lived to be 96 and died in 2020 in Mexico where she and I were researching and writing a book.
The elder O’Neills, Elizabeth and Carroll, started their own publishing company, Albicaulis Press, in 1984. Ownership was transferred in 2010 to the next generation, Adele O’Neill and David Carpenter, and renamed Great Owl Press.
We look forward to offering our loyal readers some enticing new titles. Don’t be surprised. The next one is completely different. Like you and all good travelers, adventurers, and mountaineers, we just can’t sit still.
Adele at Alvand Mountain (Ganj Nameh) Hamadan Province, Iran April 29, 2015