1/20/2009

Meeting Dr. Seuss

In November of 1983 I had the good fortune to meet Theodor S. Geisel, better known to the general public, and especially to children, as Dr. Seuss. It happened when the late author, in a white beard and a bow tie, made a rare appearance at a bookstore in Walnut Creek, California. Even at the age of thirty-one, I was in awe of the man who had created Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who!, and The Cat in the Hat.

I was third in a long line of people waiting to speak with Dr. Seuss. He sat alone behind a small table in a corner at the front of the store, carefully signing copies of his books. The crowd of young and old, ranging from those who were so tiny that they were still taking their first steps to those who now had grandchildren of their own, was quietly worshipful as they waited. It was as if we were having a private audience with the Pope or the Dalai Lama.

When it was my own turn to approach Dr. Seuss, I found that I could scarcely utter a word. I nervously stepped forward and, after taking a deep breath, I succeeded in telling him that I greatly enjoyed his many books. As he signed my copy of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in his distinctive script, he grinned at me and said, in a sly tone, "You're too old to be reading them!"

Many years after my meeting with Dr. Seuss, his books are as highly regarded as ever, and continue to be joyfully passed from one generation to the next. From his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, to his last, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, his inventive stories and his fanciful drawings have endured. As long as there are children in the world, and as long as there are grownups who still have a spark of childhood within themselves, the books of Dr. Seuss always will be known and loved.