Today in car line, I saw the kindergartners at my son's school walk by with tall red and white striped hats atop their heads and was reminded of the big upcoming day -- Dr. Seuss's birthday. This Friday, March 2, would have been his 108th birthday; and still today more than 20 years after his death, he delights readers young and old.
Okay, he also pisses some off too, like those who believe his work is filled with leftist propaganda, but most of us have grown up with his books, and now read them proudly to our own children. His work, like that of few others, has passed the test of time, and only gets better as the years go by. While many of us know the words of his books by heart, however, we may not know much about the man behind the words -- Theodor Seuss Geisel, "Ted," to his friends and family. Here are 10 surprising facts about Dr. Seuss you may not know:
1. He was no saint. In his senior year at Dartmouth, he got busted drinking gin with his buddies. It was in 1925 during prohibition, and he was placed on probation.
2. He wasn't a doctor. He pursued a PhD. in English, but never finished it. He did receive several honorary degrees in his lifetime, however.
3. His first book was "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." It was finally published in 1937 after being turned down a reported 27 times. His grandparents lived on Mulberry Street.
4. He had no biological children of his own, but invented an imaginary one named Chrysanthemum-Pearl that he used to brag about.
5. "Green Eggs and Ham" contains only 50 different words. He wrote it after a publisher bet him he couldn't write a book with so few words. Dr. Seuss won ... as did we all.
6. One his more obscure books, "The Butter Battle Book" was pulled from library shelves for some time because it referred to the Cold War and the arms race.
7. He based the Grinch character on himself. In 1957, he told Redbook, "I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost."
8. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts.
9. "If I Ran the Zoo" holds the distinction of being the first published record of the word "nerd."
10. In all, he wrote and illustrated 44 children's books in his lifetime. Today, there are more than 200 million copies of those books around the world.
Image via katerha/Flickr