Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel)! I can only imagine the millions of children who grew up learning to read with your books and developing a lifelong love of reading because of you. I count myself among them.

We all have a favorite Dr. Seuss book that we can probably still recite from memory. Maybe it was The Cat in the Hat. Or Horton Hears A Who! Or One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Or Green Eggs and Ham.

Actually Green Eggs and Ham is partially responsible for my complete (and slightly unreasonable) opposition to eggs and milk (unless they are well mixed into other things.

When I was about 7 or 8, my mom got up one St. Patrick's Day morning and decided to fix Dave and me green scrambled eggs and green milk a la Green Eggs and Ham. I took one look at this hideous looking meal and went to school hungry that day. Dave, who at the time was the pickiest eater in the entire world, ate it up eagerly. Heck, he probably ate mine too. To this day I still won't eat eggs in any form. To quote Green Eggs and Ham, "Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse. I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them anywhere. I would not eat green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am."

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Oh The Places You'll Go, which like most people I know, I received as a college graduation gift. This charming book reminds us that life isn't always easy and certainly has its share of adversity, but "there's fun to be done." I should probably go re-read it right about now.

But above all, my most favorite Dr. Seuss creation is his poem "My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers," (click the previous link to read President Hotchkiss's memory of how Dr. Seuss came to give the speech, which until the moment he was on stage, no one knew for sure he would give) which he wrote just for the Class of 1977 at Lake Forest College.

My Uncle Terwilliger on
the Art of Eating Popovers

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them
with a penetrating stare…
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
“To eat these things,”
said my uncle,
“you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid…
you must spit out the air!”

as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.
—Dr. Seuss

There's even a stone commemorating this speech on the LFC campus that I stop to read each time I walk by it, which is actually fairly often.

In honor of Dr. Seuss, today I'm going to sit down and re-read Oh The Places You'll Go and whatever other Dr. Seuss books I may still have. How will you celebrate?

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