Today is your day!
During June 1998, Audrey Geisel was interviewed by the Gannett News Service. She reminisced about Ted’s anxiety over his last book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “He worried it sounded preachy,” she said. It was not, she assured him. “I think he was intending it to be the summation of his own life. He was taking everything he knew and put it into the life voyage of this particular little boy.”
Couple this insight from Audrey with Herb Kupferberg’s May 1990 syndicated conversation with Ted himself, “On the Way with Dr. Seuss,” and another clue surfaces. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is vintage Seuss, an anything-but-solemn illustrated sermon on the thrills and adventures that await you on the road to success in life. Of course, the doctor points out the pitfalls as well as the summits. But in the end all comes out right, as that young pajama-clad Seussian hero triumphs over the delightfully fearsome pictorial creatures that bestrew this way.”
Pajama-Clad Seussian Hero
In the summer of 1946, a New York friend invited Ted to vacation at Villa Narcissa above the Pacific southwest of Los Angeles. Dr. Seuss’s biographers wrote: “After a few golden mornings padding about the terrace, Ted declared that he wanted to live the rest of his life in a climate that allowed him ‘to walk around outside in my pajamas.’” It was here that “Ted began painting in watercolor to illustrate McElligot’s Pool, his first book in seven years.”
Dr. Seuss is the pajama-clad hero of this story—his final gift to us!
However, there is one more clue yet to be revealed.
Late in life, Ted was interviewed for the July 1989 issue of Life magazine: “The very first children’s book that [Dr. Seuss] wrote . . . is still in print as he finished his 46th, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! ‘The theme is limitless horizons and hope,’ he says. ‘I am concerned that children today do not think beyond their problems.’” The interviewer then inquired about a framed target—sporting a dead-center hole—hanging on the wall. She is told that Ted’s father was the marksman, having won an international rifle meet when he was quite young. Ted said: “That target reminds me to reach for excellence. If you don’t, you end up with schlock.”
Today Is Your Day! is a catawampus Seussian target if ever there was one, the bullseye holding aloft our pajama-clad traveler who, from that vantage point, muses over the entirety of his life.
Upon Dr. Seuss’s passing in 1991, The New York Times said that he had died “fortunate in his gifts and in his giving.” And Ted’s biographers, Judith and Neil Morgan wrote: “There was never any doubt that Ted considered Oh, the Places You’ll Go! his farewell salute, his last parade, Mulberry Street gone worldwide.”