As a tyke, there were many flashy, colorful books that I had the pleasure of reading. However, the ones that stood out the most were the ones written by the whimsical Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. Coincidentally, it was the good Doctor’s birthday on March 2nd. In honor of this, I feel it would be appropriate to recount some of his early life and career.
Seuss was born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Theodor Robert and Henrietta Geisel. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents were German immigrants. His father managed their family brewery until it closed down during Prohibition.
In 1925, he graduated from Dartmouth College. During his time there, he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, as well as editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, the school’s humor magazine. Wanting to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature, Seuss enrolled at Oxford. However, instead of earning his degree, he found his future wife, Helen Palmer. He married her in 1927, leaving Oxford to return to the United States.
After college, he spent many years writing comical articles and illustrations for various publications. His first cartoon was published July 16, 1927 in The Saturday Evening Post. During the Great Depression, Theodor made his living via advertisements for companies. In 1937, Geisel was returning from a trip to Europe via ship. The rhythm of the ship’s engines was the inspiration for the poem that turned into his first book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
In World War II, the majority of Seuss’s works were that of political cartoons. He began directly supporting the war effort in 1942 by drawing posters for the Treasury Department and War Production Board. Then, in 1943, Seuss joined the Army as a Captain (OF-2). He was commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the US Air Force.
In the 1950s, Seuss began making the children’s books he is more known for today. The rest is history. To commemorate Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday, a movie of his book, The Lorax, was released last week. If you haven’t seen it yet, go, it is great
By Nic Johnson