Has Anyone Read Clarence Day?

Searching through my bookshelves for something cheerful to read, I found an old book I picked up someplace in my travels entitled The Best of Clarence Day. I don’t suppose many students or their parents read Day’s work today, seeing that he lived from 1874 to 1935. All his life he struggled with rheumatoid arthritis; that constant pain is reflected in his picture above. Despite R.A., he wrote beautiful, sweet, humorous essays, his best about growing up with his family in New York City. (Movie buffs may have seen the film made from his work, “Life with Father.”) Every day, I read only one essay, to make them last longer. This morning it was “Father on Horseback,” in which Day’s intractable father meets a horse named Rob Roy who is equally as stubborn. I’ll let you guess who wins. Although the essays make me laugh out loud, I’m also appreciating his word pictures of old New York. This morning, his description of what the eighteen-hundreds Elevated looked like held me at the breakfast table: “Soon a stubby little steam engine, with its open coal car piled full of anthracite, and its three or four passenger cars swinging along behind, appeared round the curve. White smoke poured from the smokestack. The engineer leaned out from his window.” While Day’s essays put me into a good mood for writing, they also make me a better writer, a fact which all authors know about reading other’s works.

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