Saturday, July 5, 2008
It's All About James Thurber in Columbus, OH
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons." - James Thurber
Today it was all about James Thurber in Columbus Ohio. This famous humorist who wrote for the New Yorker spent his college years in Columbus, OH, while attending Ohio State. This guy's awesome because he wrote great short stories, did cool sketches and also wrote CHILDREN'S stories, which I love. He's famous for The Catbird Seat (see link to text below) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (see me holding book in picture).
The historical/literary site in Columbus is Thuber's home where he lived during college. There are self-guided tours all days of the week and on Sunday there are tour guides. Next to the house is a writing center where students can attend workshops. Literary performances will also come out to schools, which I thought was really awesome.
One of my favorite parts of the house is the whimsical sculpture garden in the middle of the two centers. Here there were all kinds of DOG sculptures. (Thurber did write children's stuff and also stuff like Women and Dogs, Thurber's Dogs, The Fireside Book of Dog Stories, and The Beast in Me and Other Animals). So of course, for me, this was a dream come true. The house and garden are adorable and a great way to spend an afternoon. There are also other historical Columbus sites on the block that are significant to the city.
In the pictures for this post, you will also see a sign for the Columbus Dispatch. This is the paper where Thurber worked before writing for The New Yorker. Also, you will see his headstone in the Grandview Cemetery. We had to search for this grave site for about an HOUR! The cemetery was super hard to navigate.
After a day of Thurber, my buddy Smitty was gracious enough to take me to "The Book Loft," an awesome book store with 32 rooms!! Wow! I don't know if it beats "The Strand" in miles of books, but it was definitely pretty cool. (As a New Yorker I'm always ready to give my city the credit it deserves, hopefully not in an obnoxious way). Since it is a Columbus bookstore, the first book I saw when I walked in was a book called James Thurber Secret Lives...of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber. It is illustrated by Marc Simont, but in Thurber's style, and it definitely has a fun, kids' feel to it. I love that. So all in all, I feel a new sense of kinship with James Thurber and hopefully I can bring him into my classroom next year...it will be my secret way of spreading dog propaganda. Just kidding.
Also, I found out the E.B. White, fellow children's writer and author for The New Yorker, is the one who got Thurber to actually publish his illustrations. White was the first person to look critically at Thurber's work and obviously, we should thank him wholeheartedly.