Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
I just read that the works of “Dr. Seuss” (Theodore Geisel, 1904-1991) are among the latest cultural specimens to come under the woke-roscope (to offer a Seussian kind of word) in the cancel culture lab.
Geisel was the author of many delightful children’s books that informed and entertained “big kids,” too. Read Across America Day, March 2, has been held for twenty years on the anniversary of his birthday.
To the cancel crowd: the cat’s been out of the bag, er, the hat, for too long, however, at this point, to erase the life-long lessons learned and humor enjoyed via his clever craft by millions of people around the world in their nooks and crannies–all those moms and dads and gramps and grannies (as he might put it) and their little ones.
You see, you can get rid of what’s in the head, on library shelves, and in school curricula, maybe, but not what has taken root in memory, heart, and soul.
No matter how you try to spin it today.
But I wonder how many of you have read and really understood Seuss? He taught many, many lessons on diversity, inclusion, love, loyalty, logic, sensitivity, and more. Here is one of myriad commentaries on the value of his work delivered with grins and giggles, maybe, but always with the bigger picture in view.
At least in my house (and funny bone), Geisel’s light-hearted poetry (and even lighter-hearted illustrations) will stay put and continue to offer insight and remedies as only humor can do for all that can go wonky in the world.
They will remain on my top shelf of go-to’s in an age when, more than ever, we need his wisdom, wit, and whimsy.
What follows is an excerpt from a humor column I wrote back in the nineties that appeared in the Springfield (Oregon) News commemorating the third anniversary of his death. In the spirit of parody that can only hope to honor the inimitable original, here’s my dose of “Dr. Seuss” for today.
Take as needed.
Whimsical Dr. Seuss Still the Cure for What Ails You
The Doctor is gone, oh, saddest of days,
for the good Doctor cured us in magical ways.
When doom-saying Grinches set out to deplore us,
the Doctor gave Sneetches and Zaxs to restore us.
When bogey and bogus men hopped on us, dropped on us,
we could take one Seuss book, a tot, a stuffed octopus,
and a soft, Cuddle-Fuzzle-Ump (or something like this)
and in no time at all we were right in the midst
of Horton or Moon Face or Buffalo Biff
who assisted us out of our huff or our tiff.
Wisely–and wryly–the Doctor prescribed
and helped cure our ills, our woes, and our sighs.
Fanciful potions, delightful prognotions
wryly–and wisely–the Doctor inscribed.
But alas, now he’s gone–oh, saddest of times!
Who’s to revive us when we’re out of rhymes?
Who, now will treat our foibles, our feudals?
Who’ll help us come out of our stews and our strudels?
When westward or north, south or eastward we lean,
who’ll prop us up?
Who’ll straighten our beam?
Not the good Doctor–he’s no longer in,
but he left us a message (‘least I think he did).
I think he would say, in his whimsical fashion,
(with equally whimsical actors and action)
that right in the midst of distressing reports,
when we’re quite weighted down, quite out of sorts,
the Rx that cures (that hardly can fail)
is some time with a tot and a humorous tale;
some time in a wonderous, funderous place
with a book and a tot and a smile on our face.
The Doctor is out, oh saddest of days.
For the good Doctor cured us in magical ways.
But, though he is gone (we can’t help but be sad)
his Rx remains–so read on, and be glad.
Take as directed.