Tuesday, September 13, 2016
In his teenage years Ted grew tall, gawky and darkly handsome. He was developing strong likes and dislikes. He preferred to avoid athletics, but his father decreed that he take fencing lessons from the coach, Chris Neubauer, at the Turnverein, and he suffered through seventeen "hour-long agonies." Neubauer tried to teach him rope climbing and calisthenic leaps over the sawhorses in the gymnasium, but none of it suited Ted. He hated wearing the required pink jersey shirt. It was no better in Mr. McCarty's dancing class in the ballroom of the Hotel Kimball, to which he carried his dancing pumps in a green flannel bag. The "pink jersey and green flannel bag" came to symbolize Ted's scorn for compulsory activities that he felt added nothing to his life.
From the array of options at Central High, Ted signed on for his only formal art class, and it too was short-lived:
Our model that day was a milk bottle containing a few
scraggly late autumn daisies. I was having a real bad time
trying to capture the beauty of this set-up and immortalize
it with a hunk of charcoal and a sheet of paper. To add to
my frustration, my teacher kept fluttering about and giving
me hell for turning my drawing board around and working
on my picture upside down. "No, Theodor," she said. "Not
upside down! There are rules that every artist must abide
by. You will never succeed if your break them."
At the end of the hour Ted transferred out of art class and soon signed on as manager of the high school soccer team. "We lost every game," he later said, "but I was free forever from art-by-the-rule books, so I considered it a highly successful season."
-Judith and Neil Morgan, Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography