You know how your mother always told you not to run with scissors, or other risky childhood high jinks, because “you could lose an eye.” I think I might have come across the original inspiration for that dire warning.
Let me back up. Today being Wednesday, my newspaper friend Mr. Singh was dutifully at his post at the subway exit this morning with an armful of Outreach Connections (the paper created and sold “to help the homeless and the unemployed”).
It was starting to rain, so we didn’t get to chat for long, but he did point out his “Notable Quotable” on the front page. Here it is:
“The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself.”
– James Thurber (1894-1961)
I’ve read a few of James Thurber’s humorous essays and one of his short stories (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) but didn’t know much else about him.
Here’s what I found out:
● Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio, on December 8, 1894.
● In the 1920s, he established himself as a professional writer and editor, joining the staff of The New Yorker magazine in 1927, with the help of his friend, and fellow New Yorker editor E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web).
● His career as a New Yorker cartoonist began in 1930 when White found some of Thurber’s drawings in a trash can and submitted them for publication.
And, sorry to leave you in suspense, here’s the source of that childhood cautionary tale:
Thurber had two brothers, William and Robert. Once, while playing, his brother William shot James in the eye with an arrow.
Because of the lack of medical technology, Thurber lost his eye.
This injury would later cause him to be almost entirely blind.
So, as usual, mom was right….