• Luck came Theodor Geisel’s way when he had given up on ever getting his first children’s book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published. He was walking down Madison Street, carrying the manuscript when he bumped into Mike McClintock, a friend from college, who asked what he was carrying under his arm. Mr. Geisel replied, “A book that no one will publish. I’m lugging it home to burn.” As it happened, Mr. Geisel’s old college friend worked as an editor of children’s books at a major publishing house: Vanguard. He liked the book, and so the first Dr. Seuss book was published. Later in his career, luck continued to bless Mr. Geisel. One day, he was working on transparent tracing paper in his studio when a gust of wind blew his transparent drawing of an elephant on top of a drawing of a tree. Mr. Geisel looked at the juxtaposition, then thought to himself that he should figure out why the elephant was sitting in a tree. He figured it out, and the solution became his book Horton Hatches the Egg. From these events in his life, Mr. Geisel concluded, “See, everything has to do with luck.”
• Ann Landers, née Esther Pauline Friedman, got her job as an advice columnist fortuitously. One of her friends was an executive on the Chicago Sun-Times. She called the friend to ask if she could help the newspaper’s advice columnist answer her mail. As it happened, the advice columnist had died one week earlier.
• Esquire founding editor Arnold Gingrich wanted major-league writing talent for the magazine, and he knew how to get it. When he contacted Ernest Hemingway about writing for Esquire, the famed writer suggested a shooting contest. If Mr. Gingrich won, then Mr. Hemingway would write for the magazine. Mr. Gingrich did win, and Esquire published Mr. Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro.
• Gary Paulsen’s novel Hatchet, about a 14-year-old boy named Brian surviving in the Northern wilderness with the aid of only a hatchet, was so well and realistically written that after it was published, people from the National Geographic Society called Mr. Paulsen to see if they could arrange to interview Brian.
• Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne once met writer Heywood Broun and told him, “I’m glad to know you, Broun. I often read your articles in the World.” This was a mistake because Mr. Broun had not written for the World for two years. Mr. Broun replied, “I’m glad to hear that. And by the way, that’s a great basketball team you have at Yale.”
• When author Gary Paulsen first competed in the Iditarod, a 1,049-mile dog-sled race beginning in Anchorage, Alaska, he was voted by his fellow racers the “least likely to get out of Anchorage.” He did finish the race, but he almost did not get out of Anchorage after taking a wrong turn that led him downtown instead of out in the wilderness.
• The funniest typo that ever occurred in a work by children’s book writer Phyllis Reynolds Naylor appeared in a short story titled “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Instead of reading, “Marvin Migglesby sat by the fire roasting chestnuts and feeding them to the dog,” the last line read, “Marvin Migglesby sat by the fire roasting the dog.”
• Author Joel Perry once parked his car at a place without parking meters. He did notice a number of holes dug in the earth by the curb but thought nothing of them. When he returned to his car, he discovered that the holes had been used to put in parking meters and he had received a parking ticket.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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