In 1921, Ted made the train trip to Dartmouth with sixteen other graduates from Springfield’s Central High School. Their English teacher, Edwin “Red” Smith, a recent Dartmouth grad, had rallied them for his alma mater with his energetic style and affable ways. That core group, and the new friendships they forged at Dartmouth, made the students in the class of ’25 remarkably loyal to one another and to the college. The Dartmouth English professor Donald E. Pease described Ted’s college relationships in his 2010 book, Theodor SEUSS Geisel: “Ted’s Dartmouth classmates would become lifelong friends, a reliable audience for his art, honorary siblings, and the role models against whom he measured his own ambitions.”
The highlight of Ted’s four years at Dartmouth was being a contributor and then editor of The Jack-O-Lantern, the college’s humor magazine. In April of his senior year there was a disturbance involving ten buddies sharing a single pint of gin in his room—it was still the early years of Prohibition and there had to be consequences. As part of his punishment, Ted was removed as editor of The Jack-O-Lantern. He was devastated, but undeterred. The 1925 spring edition carried a suspiciously high number of cartoons by several new artists: L. Burbank, Thos. Mott Osborne ’27, D.G. Rossetti ’25, T. Seuss, and one simply by Seuss. “To what extent that corny subterfuge fooled the dean, I never found out,” Ted said. “But that’s how ‘Seuss’ first came to be used as my signature.”
Late in life, while working with his biographers Judith and Neil Morgan, Ted reminisced about the verbal exchange between Dartmouth buddies that accompanied their undergrad handshake: “When I went to college, it was a campy thing to say, ‘Oh, the places you’ll go! The people you’ll meet!’” That Roaring Twenties handshake, and the words that defined it, sent Ted on his way to a robust and rewarding career. In 1990, he chose those same words for his parting book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! It was a final and fitting tribute to the Dartmouth men who befriended him early on and were a source of encouragement his entire life.
All information excerpted from: Secrets of the Deep, the Lost, Forgotten, and Hidden Works of Theodor Seuss Geisel and The Cat Behind the Hat