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.

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  • Holley

    Thank you for sharing Mr. Simms Story. I am so inspired by his dedication to learn to read after so many years and what sounds like an already full life. It makes me sad and angry that he was pushed aside at such a young age simply becasue he had difficulty with speech. We have hopefully come a long way in edcuation but we still have far to go. I applaud to Mr. Simms! Best wishes as he continues his journey to learn to read! He sounded great! Keep Reading!