Looks like a good week coming up. Monday is lunch with an old friend, Laurie Edmondson, a Drury University professor in the school of Education and Child Development, with whom I wrote a book about writing a few years ago.
Thursday evening is the annual Missouri Writers Hall of Fame Student Awards Banquet. I had the pleasure to help start the organization with three others in 1993. At this event four of us will read the winning works of area students who were selected from entries in the LAD Fair (sponsored by the Language Arts Department at Missouri State University in Springfield), itself an annual event that attracts around 7,000 student entries each year.
Friday evening is the annual banquet sponsored by The Breech School of Business at Drury. The school is named for Drury graduate Ernie Breech who, during his brilliant career, served as head of Ford Motor Company and Trans World Airlines. I was inducted into the Breech School of Business Hall of Fame in 2004. This year an old fraternity brother is being inducted so I look forward to seeing him again after all these years.
Saturday from 10:00 – 12:00 I’ll sign my newest book, CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.
Otherwise it looks like a good week for writing and I know exactly what I’ll be working on. Unless, of course, something else comes up. Which, of course, is likely to happen.
When I was a boy with a butterfly net perpetually over my shoulder, on one occasion I witnessed a fight between a wasp and a large spider. The spider lost the contest. The wasp dragged the spider’s paralyzed body to its burrow where it would eventually be devoured by the larva when it hatched.
When I found myself enrolled in a writing class my final semester at Drury in 1959, that scene is what I wrote about. Based on it, my professor, Dr. Clark Graham, encouraged me to become a writer.
Yesterday I found myself writing a 100-word end note about tarantulas. I wrote about the spider’s mortal enemy, a wasp called “tarantula hawk,” which stings and paralyzes the tarantula, drags its body to its burrow, and plants an egg on it for a first meal when the larva hatches.
Dr. Graham didn’t live long enough after retirement for me to have a chance to thank him. By the time my first publication came out, it was too late. But thinking about spiders and wasps and college and Dr. Graham and the beginning of my career made it a good day. Way to go, Dr. Graham!
I attended the annual Student Awards Luncheon yesterday at Drury’s School of Education and Early Child Development. I had nothing to do with it but as adjunct faculty of that school and poet laureate for Drury I get invited to nice things. I watched as nine young graduating teachers received awards for outstanding work during their student careers. Several of the awards are named for friends of mine — Wanda Gray, Polly Copper, Sharon Price, Dan Beach.
On the way home I made my way through snarled traffic around another campus, Missouri State University, and was reminded that these special ceremonies to celebrate smart and dedicated college graduates are taking place all over America. It’s a good feeling. The media keeps us up to date on trivia, trash, and tragedy. But yesterday I sat in a room watching great representatives of the next generation being recognized for the marks they’ve already made, and I felt better about our world than I have in a while.
Been having computer issues. No known reason. These things sure can be humbling.
Quick reminder for anyone in the Springfield area with the time and interest, you’re welcome to come to Drury University this Thursday the 8th at 11:00 a.m. in Stone Chapel. The event is billed as the inaugural 2015 Alumni Convocation and I’m the speaker. The event is free and open to the public so please tell others who might be interested. This might be a good opportunity for anyone with children approaching the age of choosing a college to pay a visit to the campus. The location is 900 N Benton on the corner of Central, across the street from Central High School.
The Stone Chapel is oldest stone structure in Springfield, and the cornerstone was laid on November 16, 1880. When I was a student at Drury, attending Chapel was compulsory. Now here I am going back by invitation. I must say that I’m looking forward to it.