by Brian Rudnick
Frank Simms of North Philadelphia graduated from Overbrook High School many years ago yet now, at age 77, is still learning how to read.
He hasn’t spent a day in jail, he says, and has been working since he was six years old, doing everything from welding and bricklaying to electrical work in Philly and for periods of time in Erie and Cleveland.
At the Lovett Branch of the Free Library in Mount Airy, where he has just completed a literacy session with another woman and his tutor, Simms proudly pulls out wallet photos of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He partly blames an early speech impediment and a school with misbehaved classmates for keeping him from learning to read properly.
Asked to read aloud from an elementary grade story handed out by his teacher, he stumbles on words but perseveres. Later in the week, he meets with another tutor in the basement of an apartment building at 12th and Fairmount pursuing his quest for literacy.