Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I just came across the first extant piece I ever wrote and illustrated.  ("Extant" means that there may have been earlier examples...but they apparently no longer exist.)  A few notes before I continue:  I was living, the eldest of 8 children (only 4 having made their appearance by the time of my piece), on a farm in southern Vermont, where my artist father and writer mother---back-to-the-landers from Manhattan---had created, among other things, an enormous vegetable garden, and a blue-ribbon herd of dairy goats (this last began because I was allergic to cow's milk, I am told).  Lastly, one of my sisters is truly named Clyde---the author with whom I later collaborated on many children's books.  (I didn't seem to deem it necessary to give a name to the other little sister...who was Linda, and a few months old.)  I transcribe my piece here to the best of my abilities (given the limitations of Blogger---I can't show all the erasures left behind as I apparently pondered one possible spelling after another):

on The river  Re   Rode there was a farme.  and there was a Daddy and a Mommy and a Big Brother and a Big sister and two little sisters.  the frest day thay moved in thay began to Pot new wellpapper on and new Floor in and new Seeling.  than they moved in and satolD   Doye    Downe.  

this is how they Got their FooD.  Own sonny morning thay weate out and BeGan to malke a Garden.  they plated carets and Bets and Corn  patotos  Pes  SParoGS  StrowBareis  and RasBareis.  every morning CLYDE gos out to the chicken house and gathers the eGGS.  CLYDE and Peter PLaY toGether all Day Loge Whith their trucks.  Whan Lunch is raedy CLYDE Peter Wndy Go in and eat their Dinnr then the Little own’s Go and have a LittLe nap then they Go out Doors again.  Peter 5   CLYDE 2   Wendy 7

every niGHt and morning BUD*  Goes out and MilK’s the Goets.  then he stranZ the milk and pots it in too Gors.  than in the morning Peter and CLYDE and Wendy gat up and have a Bowl oof oatmeal and milk.  then PetRR and CLYDE Go out DooRs with their Daddy and help him milk the Goats.  71 Goats and 7 Goats milking.  and that is HOW the Watsons Got Going.

*["Bud" was my father's nickname, to other adults.  We children, though,  called him "Daddy".] 

As I consider this creation, several points come to mind:  I'm rather...ahem, surprised?...that my penmanship and spelling left so much to be desired.  (Although you  have to admit that the spelling was very...creative.)  On the other hand, the voice is definitely brisk and confident.  I had clearly already learned that, as Mark Twain said, one should never let facts get in the way of a good story---I doubt that 2-year-old Clyde, for example, was actually helping to milk the goats, or climbing daily into the chicken house to gather---and possibly break---the eggs.  
And the illustration?...well, I seemed already quite at home with manipulating a pencil.  And I clearly knew that an artist always puts her name to her work.


  1. Dear Blogger Design: You decided to put a background color---white---behind some of my text and, try as I might, I cannot get rid of it. This bothers me, the Perfectionist, greatly. In my opinion, you have ruined the looks of my post. Sincerely, Me

  2. Yes I did too help gather eggs at age 2!!!!!!!
    And have favored chickens over other domestic animals my whole life! Even gave up a chance to visit Acapulco Mexico to stay in Puebla Mexico and help clean out a chicken coop. So there!

  3. Wow, pretty good drawing. Perspective and everything. Nice job. Great Story.

  4. Don't worry, its a fine blog post. In fact I LOVE your creative spelling and this early flowering of your
    Thanks so much for sharing!!

  5. your spelling makes me think of old english. what a wonderful post this is!

  6. How very much I LOVE this post! For so many reasons: the voice of the writer - so clear and, as you say, confident; the beautiful spelling; and the sense we get of a child's view of a child's day - a very specific child, this Wendy love.

  7. Mea culpa, CW! I was more accurate than I'm giving myself credit for.