You might know that Dr. Seuss was not, in fact, a doctor, or that the beloved children’s book author never had littles Seusslettes of his own. But did you know that Theodor Seuss Geisel’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 20 to 29 publishers (depending on which day he told the story)? Thank goodness for Fate, which intervened when the advertising copywriter and cartoonist ran into an old Dartmouth friend on Madison Avenue with the manuscript in hand. Forty-four Seuss-penned and illustrated books followed. Geisel died in 1991, but his birthday, March 2, is a day of international celebration. If we could send Dr. Seuss a note up in That Place, where surely the Swomee-Swans sing, the Humming-Fish hum, and the Brown Bar-ba-loots frisk under Truffula Trees, this is what it would say:
My dear Dr. Seuss,
Today you would be one hundred and ten,
Twelve in Who years,
Or in Glotz years eight-ten.
We miss you, we do,
Though your books, they live on.
They teach kids to read, to think THINKS, to play gongs!
“A person’s a person, no matter how small,”
You said once, and it caused us to stall.
Because you were right, you right righter,
We all need to have fun, to be free to make sense
To talkers of Wubbledydoo and writers of Flense.
So many thanks are owed to the Seussian goof,
That goofian Seuss who knew how to let loose.
So who owes you a gift?
Just one sec, let us think.
The Egg Board, the Ham Board, the Board of Green Ink,
The fishes, the Sneetches, Thing One and Thing Two,
The foxes in sockses,
Of course Foo-Foo the Snoo.
And what would the Whos do if it wasn’t for you?
They’d sit in their houses crying boohoo, oh boohoo!
The trees owe you one.
Don’t forget parents and teachers,
Who cheer from the bleachers.
When Ted Geisel was born in nineteen-oh-four,
Who could have guessed
He’d light so many lights,
With that anapest zest?
In your words, “I wish we could do what they do in Katroo.
They sure know how to say Happy Birthday to You!”
Instead we salute with a nod of the chin,
A tip of the hat once worn by the Cat,
A swizz of the tizzle,
A bop of the klop,
A toot of the floot,
And a wave of the pen.
Happy birthday to you, doc,
Happy birthday, missed friend.