Five Interesting Facts to Celebrate the Birthday of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss was born Ted Geisel on March 2, 1904, meaning today would have been his 114th birthday! Check out these amazing facts you probably didn’t know about the man behind the Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham…

#1. Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs and Ham on a bet.

Dr. Seuss himself—a.k.a. Ted Geisel—pictured here with perhaps his most famous book. Photo source: WikiCommons

After some blockbuster hits like Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the late 1950’s, Seuss’ editor, Bennett Cerf, thought the Doctor could use a new challenge. He bet Seuss that he couldn’t write a book using just 50 words. Seuss said, “challenge accepted,” and the end result was Green Eggs and Ham: his best-selling book with over 8 million copies in circulation. The 50 words, in order, were: I am Sam; that; do not like; you green eggs and ham; them; would here or there; anywhere; in a house with mouse; eat box fox; car they; could; may will see tree; let me be; train on; say the dark; rain; goat; boat; so try may; if; good; thank. Talk about a tongue twister.

#2. His name rhymed with “voice,” not “moose.”

Sorry to spoil it for you folks, but you’ve been saying the guy’s name wrong your whole lives. Ted Geisel first adopted the moniker while at Dartmouth College after getting banned from writing for the school paper after being caught with gin in his dorm room. He went by “Seuss” to continue writing (and later added the “Doctor” because his dad always wanted him to go into medicine). But, he never intended the name to be pronounced the way we all do today. Instead, he wanted the name to go by the German pronunciation, which rhymed the name with “voice.” A friend even wrote a short poem to help with pronunciation:

You’re wrong as the deuce,

And you shouldn’t rejoice

If you’re calling him Seuss.

He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).

#3. Writing and illustrating books for kids was not his only artistic job.

Dr. Seuss working on illustrations for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Image Source: WikiCommons

During World War II, Seuss enlisted in the Army and became commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Not a bad gig, all things considered. Seuss was responsible for creating animated propaganda films. Before hitting it big in the children’s books universe, Seuss also held down a job as an artist for advertisements. Seuss drew cartoons for General Electric, NBC, Standard Oil, and Narragansett Brewing Company.

#4. Seuss was a big fan of symbolism.

You might pick up a Dr. Seuss book and think it’s all just a bunch of nursery rhymes about boisterous cats or multi-colored fish, but the truth is that there’s a lot more beneath the surface. Take Yertle the Turtle for example. A domineering turtle with a whole pond to call his own gets greedy and tyrannizes his fellow turtles in his quest for multi-pond domination? If that sounds to you like a not-so-subtle allegory for Adolf Hitler, you’re absolutely right. Seuss later acknowledged the Turtle was a symbol of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

#5. His first book was turned down by 27 different publishers.

It took 28 tries to get And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street published, a process so frustrating that Seuss nearly burned his draft of the book. But, he persisted, and after writing over 40 books in his lifetime and selling more than half-a-billion copies, Dr. Seuss is one of the most successful children’s authors of all time.


Did you know…? This Day in History

Did You Know…Canned beer makes its debut on this day in 1935. In partnership with the American Can Company, the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company delivered 2,000 cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale to faithful Krueger drinkers in Richmond, Virginia. Canned beer was an immediate success. Ninety-one percent of the drinkers approved of the canned beer, driving Krueger to give the green light to further production. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.

Today in History, November 19th


4 Score and 4 Trivia Questions about the Gettysburg Address

President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on November 19th, 1863. It’s widely regarded as one of the famous speeches in history, but how much do you know about it? Try your hand at these four trivia questions about 272 words that proved a speech doesn’t have to be long to be memorable…

Who Wrote the Speech for Lincoln?

Rather than vilify the Confederacy after the battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln chose a more inclusionary tone for his speech. Photo credit: Greg Goebel/Flickr.

Today, whenever a president gives a speech, you know that it has been written by a professional speechwriter – someone who actually studied the art of public speaking and knows the mechanics of delivering a great speech. But in 1863, things were done a little differently. It was, in fact, Abraham Lincoln himself who wrote the Gettysburg Address – every word of it. He finished the speech the night before he gave it and spoke from the heart. That’s why it is still so powerful today.

Why Is This Speech So Famous?

Lincoln came out the night before his speech and told a few jokes to a crowd of several hundred people.

Lincoln could have made the speech all about defeating the South and winning the war, but he did not. Instead, he geared the speech toward keeping the country together, working together, healing rifts, and honoring the democratic intent of the country’s Founding Fathers. This was not a bitter speech, nor did it try to stir up anger or fear. It would have been very easy for Lincoln to go the emotional button-pressing route, but he took a more inclusionary path, reminding people that the war was not being fought to vanquish an enemy, but to hold together a country that was started with such promise.

What Was the Original Purpose of the Speech?

Lincoln’s speech was really supposed to be a short address that was more of an afterthought than anything else. The ceremony’s star guest was famed speaker Edward Everett, who spoke for two hours. Lincoln did plan out what he would say (the legend that he wrote it on the fly was just that, a legend), but his invitation was a last-minute decision, and he was supposed to be there more for moral support than anything else. Lincoln’s intent in the speech was to remind people of how important this war was to the country and to try to keep morale up after such a devastating battle. Instead, the short speech gradually gained a reputation for being one of the most eloquent examples of patriotism and devotion to the ideals of democracy.

What Newspaper Retracted the Poor Review it originally gave the Gettysburg Address 150 Years Later?

NPR did a tongue-in-cheek story about the paper’s retraction, including an interview with the Opinion Page editor.

At the time, newspapers made no bones about which side they supported. The Patriot-Union, a Pennsylvania newspaper, dismissed the president’s remarks as “silly” and wrote, “For the credit of the nation, we are willing that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and that there shall be no more repeated or thought of.” At the 150 year anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, in 2013, the same newspaper, now known as the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, issued a retraction which read, “Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to his audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.”


Today in History ~October 9th

Today in History – October 9

October 9

On October 9, 1701, the colonial legislature of Connecticut chartered the Collegiate School in Saybrook to educate students for “Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.” Originally based at the house of the first rector in Killingworth, the school moved to New Haven in 1716, and in 1718 was renamed Yale College to honor its early benefactor, the merchant Elihu Yale.
Osborn Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. [between 1900 and 1915]. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Yale graduates were influential in the American Revolution. Lyman Hall, Philip Livingston, Lewis Morris, and Oliver Wolcott signed the Declaration of Independence. Twenty-five Yale men served in the Continental Congress and the patriots Nathan Hale and Noah Webster also were among its graduates.

Yale evolved into a university in the late 1700s to mid-1800s when its original liberal arts curriculum expanded to include graduate and professional education. Among Yale’s most prestigious schools are those of divinity, medicine, law, and art. The first doctoral degrees earned in the United States were awarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1861.
In 1832, the Yale University Art Gallery became the first American college art museum. Built with funds from the Connecticut legislature, the gallery housed a series of American Revolutionary War paintings donated by Colonel John Trumbull. Also associated with Yale are the Yale Center for British Art , the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Yale University Press , one of the nation’s most distinguished university publishing houses.

Yale has had other notable nineteenth-century firsts. These include the first collegiate rowing races, held in 1843, and the first intercollegiate game of modern baseball in 1865. In 1861 Yale became the first U.S. university to award a PhD in philosophy. The Yale Daily News, the oldest college daily newspaper, was founded in 1878.

Notable Yale graduates include: presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton; inventor Samuel F. B. Morse; Dr. Benjamin Spock, and statesman John C. Calhoun. In 1781, Yale University conferred the honorary degree of “Doctorate in Laws” on George Washington. Search on Yale in the collection George Washington Papers to view the correspondence of Ezra Stiles, president of the university, with George Washington.


Quote of the Day for Tuesday 

Body and soul, let’s all go / transformed into arrows! / Piercing the air / body and soul, let’s go / with no turning back. 

Ko Un

August 15, 1982: On this day, Ko Un was released from prison under a general amnesty. The former Buddhist monk, who had been given a life sentence for resisting the South Korean military dictatorship, went on to become one of the most acclaimed poets in Korea. 


Love Of Words’ Quote of the Day for Tuesday 

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. 

•Robert Frost

August 1, 1915: Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken was first published in the Atlantic Monthly 102 years ago today. While the poem works as a metaphor for the weight we put on turning points in our lives, Frost later insisted the verses were simply inspired by a literal walk in the woods.


Happy Saturday! Here’s July 29th’s Quote of the Day!

It is ‘where we are’ that should make all the difference, whether we believe we belong there or not. 

•Chang-rae Lee

After working on Wall Street for a year, Korean American novelist Chang-Rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) went back to school to get a masters degree in writing. Upon graduating, he turned his thesis into his first novel, the award-winning Native Speaker.


Love Of Words’ Quote of the Day for Sunday 

I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once. 

~Thomas Wolfe

July 9, 1937: On this day, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a letter to Thomas Wolfe, advising his fellow author to write shorter novels. Wolfe responded with a letter eight times as long as Fitzgerald’s.


Here’s Tuesday’s Quote of the Day!

I want to understand you, 

I study your obscure language. 

Alexander Pushkin

Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (born June 6, 1799) was part of the country’s literati from age 15. By 26, he had begun publishing the serialization of Eugene Onegin, his novel in verse. By 37, he was dead, killed in one of the 29 duels that he fought in his short life.


Happy Humpday! Here’s Wednesday’s Quote of the Day! ❤️

In secret we met 

In silence I grieve, 

That thy heart could forget, 

Thy spirit deceive. 

George Gordon Byron

May 17, 1824: Before dying in Greece, Lord Byron entrusted a friend with his memoirs. Other friends, worried that the memoirs would be scandalous, fought to destroy the manuscript—190 years ago today, they succeeded, tearing it up and burning it in the office of Byron’s publisher.