• When comic writer H. Allen Smith was a youth attending parochial school, he did well in some subjects, but was terrible at accounting. However, he discovered a novel way to improve his accounting grade. After discovering an unlocked window, he used to go to school after hours a few times a week and copy the accounting ledger of grade-A student Helen Weisenburger.
• Leo Rosten, author of The Joy of Yiddish, discovered early in his life an easy way to get out of doing his chores: All he had to do was pick up a book and read it. When he was reading something, his parents would do his chores for him rather than interrupt the learning process.
• Lord Byron was asked on an examination about Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine. As other students wrote on and on about the miracle’s religious and spiritual meaning, Byron sat quietly for a long time, then wrote, “The water met its Master, and blushed.”
• While writing his young adult novel I Am the Cheese, the late Robert Cormier needed to include a telephone number. He worried about making up a telephone number because he knew that people would call it, and the person whose number it was might not like the calls. Therefore, he used his own telephone number. As soon as the novel was published, his telephone started ringing. Over the years, thousands of children and teenagers have called that number and talked to him. Fortunately, Mr. Cormier enjoyed talking to his readers. He acknowledged, “As a writer, I can’t afford to be a recluse or not involved with life.”
• After the publication of her best-selling book The Sea Around Us, environmentalist Rachel Carson became a major celebrity. During a lecture tour in the South, she stopped in a beauty parlor to have her hair done. Suddenly, her hair dryer stopped, and the proprietor of the beauty parlor said, “I hope you don’t mind, but there is someone who wants to meet you.” She did meet the person, with her still-wet hair up in curlers and a towel wrapped around her neck.
• The poet John Greenleaf Whittier disliked celebrity hunters. One day, he was in a store talking with the owner when a woman came in and asked if he could tell her where the famous poet John Greenleaf Whittier lived. Mr. Whittier pointed to his own house, which was across the street. Then he made sure to keep away from his house until the celebrity hunter had left the vicinity.
• Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, was a major celebrity in her day. Once, a woman told her, “If you ever come to Oshkosh, your feet will not be allowed to touch the ground — you will be carried in the arms of the people. Will you come?” Ms. Alcott replied, “Never.”
• R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series, has many young fans who enjoy his writing. One nine-year-old boy got Mr. Stine’s autograph on a copy of Monster Blood. After receiving the autograph, the boy told Mr. Stine, “I’m the luckiest man on earth!”
• Author Frank DeCaro was such a poor player in Little League baseball that his coach created a new position just for him: roving outfielder. He was stationed in the parking lot because no one could hit a ball that far. After the season was over, Frank told his father that he wanted to quit. Surprised, his father asked why he had begun to play in the first place, and Frank answered that he had done it for him, because he knew that his father wanted a son who played sports. That’s when his father said something wise and wonderful: “Don’t ever do anything just for me.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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