• On summer weekends, the family of William Sleator, who grew up to write novels for young adults, often went on float trips down a river in the Ozarks. Once, a student of William’s father came on the trip, bringing some fried chicken that was loosely wrapped in waxed paper and placed in a wicker basket. Everybody ate the fried chicken on Sunday — until William’s father held up a white grub that he had found under the skin of his piece of fried chicken. William’s father explained that flies had easily gotten to the chicken through the wicker basket and waxed paper and had laid their eggs on the chicken. The eggs had hatched and now little white grubs were crawling around. Of course, William’s father pointed out that the grubs were harmless and actually a good source of protein, but everyone stopped eating the chicken — except for William’s father, who enjoyed a very large lunch.
• Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Cottontail, loved animals, but she did use them for meat. Some Girl Guides (the British equivalent of Girl Scouts) once camped on her land. She thought that they looked very thin and perhaps malnourished because of food shortages during World War II, so she had a sheep slaughtered so that they could eat meat. Ms. Potter was fortunate that she lived on a farm during the war and that she had fans all over the world — fans who sent her scarce kinds of food, such as lemon juice. She also raised rabbits on her land because she was afraid that during World War II she would not be able to buy food for her dogs. Ms. Potter did care for her animals. She once spent a cold and wet November day gathering acorns so that she could give a treat to her pigs.
• In his book Roughing It, Mark Twain tells a story that was old in 1872. A traveler sat down at a table on which was nothing but mackerel and mustard. The traveler asked, “Is that all there is?” The landlord replied, “All!Why, thunder and lightning, I should think there was mackerel enough there for six people.” The traveler said, “But I don’t like mackerel.” The landlord was silent a moment, then said, “Oh — then help yourself to the mustard.”
• Marion Zimmer Bradley, along with such people as Ann Bannon and Patricia Highsmith, got her start as an author by writing lesbian pulp fiction. As you may expect, times were sometimes rough as these people sought to establish careers as writers. Ms. Bannon remembers that one of Ms. Bradley’s meals consisted of crackers, heated-up ketchup, and salt and pepper.
• A man once asked Mark Twain if he had caught any fish lately. Mr. Twain said that he had caught 12 trout the day before. Hearing this, the man said, “Obviously, you don’t know who I am. I am a game warden, and the season for catching trout is over.” Mr. Twain replied, “Obviously, you don’t know who I am. I am the biggest liar in the world.”
• When Yoshiko Uchida, author of Journey to Topaz, was a little girl, she visited her grandmother, who never let any food go to waste. Soon, young Yoshiko got into the same habit. When her grandmother offered her a choice of fruit — a banana or a peach, for example — Yoshiko would ask, “Which one’s spoiling?” Then she would eat that fruit.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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