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Springfield, Home of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss

© By Mike Keenan
 
Seuss Plaque If you enjoy museums as I do, visit Springfield, Massachusetts just east of Boston where, in the city core, there are five world-class museums clustered together: the Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts., the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and the Museum of Springfield History.
     However, I'm here to visit the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, outside the museums. It's a series of full-scale bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss's whimsical creations, honoring the birthplace of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. It's a terrific place to take children, and the nearby bookstore contains a wonderful sampling of Seuss books for one to purchase.
     Sculptor Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who is also Geisel's step-daughter, created the bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss and his most beloved characters in a quadrangle green near the Springfield Library.

Theodore Geisel At His Drawing Board  14 Foot Horton The Elephant  Dr Seuss Books  Cat In The Hat

     There are three large groupings: 1) Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat: Theodor Geisel at his drawing board, with the Cat in the Hat at his side. 2) Horton Court: A 14-foot Horton the Elephant stepping out of an open book, accompanied by Thing One, Thing Two, Sam-I-Am, Sally and her brother, and Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose. 3) The Storyteller: A Seussian storytelling chair, backed by a 10-foot-tall book with the text of Oh, the Places You'll Go! with Gertrude McFuzz perched on top and the Grinch and his dog, Max, peeking around the side.
Museum Complex      The Lorax stands on a stump in front of the Springfield Science Museum with his warning "Unless...," Next to the Museum of Fine Arts is the Seussian Yertle Garden with a 10-turtle-tall tower from Yertle the Turtle, surrounded by winding granite pathways and imaginative landscaping. The $6.2 million project was funded through a variety of public and private sources, led by a generous gift from Mrs. Geisel.
     Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on Howard Street in Springfield in 1904 and grew up in the city's Forest Park neighborhood. His father was a parks commissioner and in charge of the Forest Park Zoo, a regular playground for young Theodor.
     Ted's father and grandfather were brew masters in the city. His mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel, soothed her children to sleep by "chanting" rhymes remembered from her youth. Ted credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known.
     He left Springfield as a teenager to attend Dartmouth College, where he became editor-in-chief of the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth's humor magazine. Ted went on to Oxford University in England after graduation. Back home, he pursued a career as a cartoonist. The Saturday Evening Post and other publications published some of his early pieces, but the bulk of his activity during his early career was devoted to creating advertising campaigns for Standard Oil, which he did for more than 15 years.
     However, with the release of The Cat in the Hat, he became the definitive children's book author and illustrator. After Ted's first wife died in 1967, he married an old friend, Audrey Stone Geisel, who not only influenced his later books, but now guards his legacy as the president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
     At the time of his death on September 24, 1991, Ted had written and illustrated 44 children's books, including such all-time favorites as Green Eggs and Ham, Oh, the Places You'll Go, Fox in Socks, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His books had been translated into more than 15 languages. Over 200 million copies have found their way into homes and hearts around the world. The SNL reading of Green Eggs and Ham by the Rev. Jesse Jackson remains a TV classic.
     Besides books, his works are the source of eleven children's television specials, a Broadway musical and a feature-length motion picture. Honors include two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook  Horton Court - Elephant Steps Out Of A Book  The Lorax  T-shirt

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo credits
Mike Keenan

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Greater Springfield CVB: http://www.valleyvisitor.com/
Springfield museums: http://www.springfieldmuseums.org/about_us/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield,_Massachusetts
Fiction: http://www.springfieldlibrary.org/reading/wmassfiction.html ,
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss
Churches & Synagogues: http://www1.wnec.edu/campusministry...

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