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tupelo hassman

Tupelo Hassman’s childhood Read-a-thon triumph

In 1982, when I was a 9-year-old fourth-grader in the Reno suburb of Sun Valley, Nevada, I read 73 books in one month, raised over $5,000, and was the National Multiple Sclerosis Read-a-thon Champion.

The read-a-thon’s representative arrived in a linen pantsuit and was clearly from Reno proper, slightly alarmed to find that one of Reno’s main drags could be chased straight through to this, a neighborhood that dead-ended in the desert, both literally and figuratively. She might have drawn the short straw by having to make the trip to Sun Valley Elementary School, but she was soothed by Mrs. Wells, the teacher I adored for her relentless glamour. She reminded me of Mrs. Hart from the TV series about the millionaire amateur sleuths, “Hart to Hart.” Soothed by Mrs. Wells’s perfect curls, the rep opened her briefcase and began by asking us if we liked games.

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