Friday, February 11, 2011

Where in SC is Dr. Seuss' "Iota"?

We have a giant hard-cover compilation of many of the Dr. Seuss classics in one volume, a gift that was given to us upon the birth of our son; bedtime reading has been drawn from that volume on many an evening. Our now three-year-old boy is pretty obsessed with a few favorites: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (not limited to holiday time), The Sneetches (a classic anti-racist parable), Green Eggs and Ham, and the Sleep Book (a good inducement to wind down for a fidgety little guy). But last night we revisited one story that we'd only looked at a couple of times before: "If I Ran the Zoo." Full of fabulous made-up animals, I always take special note of this tale because in it, Dr. Seuss name-checks our home state:

In the Far Western part
Of south-east North Dakota
Lives a very fine animal
Called the Iota.
But I'll capture one
Who is even much finer
In the north-east west part
Of South Carolina.

Now, aside from noticing the use of the same "finer...Carolina" rhyme made famous in Gus Kahn's song "Carolina in the Morning" (which debuted in 1922, when Theodore Geisel was 18 years old), the other aspect of this verse that got me thinking was wondering just where exactly that "north-east west part of South Carolina" would be. Looking at a map, I think you might find that "much finer" Iota (or some other animal...not really clear whether Seuss is referring to a finer Iota or just a finer animal in general) right around Gaffney. Maybe in the shadow of the giant peach off I-85.

The really interesting tidbit about "If I Ran the Zoo" (written in 1950) is that it seems to be quite possibly the first printed example of the use of the word "nerd." And here he is:

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