Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

October 18, 2012

Clifford turns 50

Kokomo is known for three things: Stoplights, auto jobs ... and a certain gentlemen’s club. But ask someone outside the community about its famous offspring?

Movie buffs can recall the line from “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” Most don’t know the actor who delivered it, Strother Martin, was born here.

Rabid Indiana University basketball fans can tell you two-time All-American Jimmy Rayl holds the school’s single-game scoring record – 56 points. There might be a few who don’t know Kokomo is his hometown and still is.

But ask anyone – a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a school kid – if they’ve heard of Clifford the Big Red Dog? All know him. He’s as famous as the Cat in the Hat.

And Clifford was born here – right on Jefferson Street. As a boy, Kokomo native Norman Bridwell made up characters as he walked to and from school along that road. One of those characters became Clifford.

“Clifford the Big Red Dog,” Bridwell’s first book, was published in 1962 – the same year Rayl hung 56 points on Minnesota. Bridwell, who graduated from Kokomo High School in 1945, was given a $1,000 advance for the book and $800 for the illustrations.

Since then, Bridwell has written more than 100 Clifford books. And this year, the literary world is celebrating 50 years of tall tales of one very large, red dog.

There are hints of Kokomo in Bridwell’s stories. The Sweet Book Store, where he worked in high school, is mentioned a few times. And “Clifford’s Tricks” is dedicated to Kokomo’s Eric Gabriel, whose family were friends of the Bridwells.

Though Bridwell says he never intended to convey messages with Clifford, small-town values – Kokomo’s values – have been shared with children around the globe for half a century now.

In 2009, the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library threw a party for Bridwell on his 81st birthday. This year, it’s his dog’s turn for attention.

Happy anniversary, Clifford. Thanks for reminding our children to try doing the right thing.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Treasure the life you have I was asked by a reader what my thought on what life is for me in my late years. So here I go with some of my thoughts, but don’t think I am just making them up as I go. Life to me is the time between the day I was born and the day that I am called h

    August 23, 2014

  • Cheers and Jeers Taste of Kokomo accommodationSusie and Andy Castner send this Cheer:“A cheer to Randy Morris, City of Kokomo Park Supt. for accommodating our family for the David Cook concert at Taste of Kokomo. It made it so much easier for our mom to get to seatin

    August 23, 2014

  • State challengesfederal government Recently, some have questioned why the State of Indiana has brought lawsuits against our federal government. While this litigation is adversarial by nature, it is a necessary part of our constitutional process. What distinguishes the U.S. Constitutio

    August 23, 2014

  • Aug. 23: Letters to the Editor Paying for lack of leadershipThe salaries of the Board of County Commissioners and the complete funding of the Local Economic Development Organization, is from taxes paid by the residents of Tipton County. The actions of these two entities are unacce

    August 23, 2014

  • Smoking ordinance misguided As a subscriber to the printed edition of the Kokomo Tribune, and a non-smoker, I was very interested upon seeing a page one article in the Aug. 13 edition titled “City-wide ban on smoking revealed.” After reading the article, my interest was peaked

    August 22, 2014

  • Why government openness matters Failing to share information makes us weaker. It enfeebles congressional oversight, which is a cornerstone of representative democracy and which, when aggressively carried out by fully informed legislators, can strengthen policy-making. One of the fu

    August 22, 2014

  • Aug. 22: Letters to the Editor Rokita wrong on GMOsThe Aug. 13 Tribune article about Rokita’s “Town Hall Meeting” left out a key issue — Rokita’s co-sponsorship of HR4432. This bill would ban mandatory labeling of currently genetically modified foods and prohibit any state from en

    August 22, 2014

  • Use the law to save lives As college students head back to campus, it’s a good time to remind them of the Indiana Lifeline Law.When the General Assembly passed the law two years ago, the goal was to encourage minors to call for help by giving them immunity from being prosecut

    August 22, 2014

  • It's time to deal with crisis For five and a half years, the president has gone around Congress to ignore, defy and alter laws in a variety of areas, from Obamacare implementation to issuing excessive new labor and environmental rules to infringing on religious freedom. It is no

    August 21, 2014

  • Nation must be united On Aug. 9, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, by a police officer. Since that time, protestors and unrest have filled the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a town near St. Louis.A similar scenario

    August 21, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll