And To Think That I Saw It….. (RetroFlash) by
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When I read as a kid

I loved most Dr. Seuss.

His words opened new worlds

They just set me loose.

 

And his pictures – oh my!

They so captured his rhymes.

As I met these new creatures

Just so many times.

 

And my favorite by far

Was “Mulberry Street.”

And all that Marco had seen

I would often repeat.

 

But times they do change

And we must as well.

That which was fine as a kid

May be offensive as hell.

 

And so in the case

Of the “Chinaman” there,

What was just funny then

We now simply can’t bear.

 

Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin


Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Clever to model the phrasing within the book, John. Your point is well-taken, and those folks on Fox News who screamed about “Cancel Culture” missed the point that it was the Seuss Estate that decided to withdraw just a few of his books that showed these offensive stereotypes, not Dr. Seuss himself. Time moves on and we must also.

    Great example.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks much, Betsy, I’m reticent to use RetroFlash too much, but this story just sort of called for it, IMO. And yes; it was the Seuss estate that made this decision. One wonders what he would have done were he alive today.

  2. Perfect use of retro flash, John. But I don’t see why the reticence about its use. Brevity is, yadda yadda yadda. As to the “what would he have done”, you might enjoy a well-done biography, “Becoming Dr. Seuss” by Brian Jay Jones. Don’t know that it provides any answers but it’s a good read.

  3. Wonderful John!

    Woody, M Jackson and Wagner,
    Now thrown to the Fates!
    Who will be next?
    Don’t tell me, Bill Gates?

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    This is perfect, John. Very clever and certainly makes the point. Times do indeed change and it was time to take this one out of print. Sadly/gladly, I read it to my kids and grandkids. I love Dr. Seuss.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Well done! Mulberry Street was one of my favorite Seuss books, maybe because in my mind I conflated it with “Millbrook”, the biggest street in my neighborhood. Where I never saw half the interesting things Seuss did. Too bad they can’t just edit out the offensive bits and keep the rest.

  6. Jeff Gerken says:

    Good job of putting your story in the form of a Seuss-styled poem

  7. Suzy says:

    John, I love that you wrote a perfect RetroFlash in the style of Dr. Seuss. Sometimes 100 words is just the right amount! Other times it is not, and it’s good to know the difference.

    Betsy made the point I was planning to make, that it was the Seuss estate, and just a few of his books withdrawn. I don’t think you are saying we shouldn’t read him at all, are you?

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks so much, Suzy, especially about appreciating the use of RetroFlash — when appropriate.

      And I am certainly not saying that we should not read any of Seuss’ books. Indeed, I really don’t understand why the Estate withdraw any of the books rather than just edit them appropriately. Even I could have done that.

  8. How apt and perfectly Seussian, John. (My measure of having truly made it is having an eponymous adjective. I actually dated a guy that had one…”Stepplingesque.”)

  9. Marian says:

    Great flash, John, and I believe “If I Ran the Zoo” might also have run afoul of current sensibilities. That book was one of my favorites and contains the word “nerd.”

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