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
  • Schools need kids' parents For school-age children in southern Miami County — and their parents — this is a seminal week. Classes start at Maconaquah schools on Friday.School starts for the rest of the Kokomo area next week.Before your children head back to school, ensure they

    July 29, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • LETTERS: No excuse letting trimmings rot at curb No excuse for letting trimmings rot at curbWe live in a recently annexed, east-side subdivision — a nice, clean, well-kept subdivision where almost all homeowners take pride in and maintain their homes and lawns.Before the annexation, we paid for our

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • LETTERS: Parents taking fun out of youth sports Parents taking fun out of youth sports I enjoyed reading the article, "Nation's youth sports leagues on troubling decline," by Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, and the last paragraph, a quote by Dr. Bill Dexter, president of t

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • WEEKLY WRAP: Legal marriages should be honored Legal marriages should be honoredAn eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.The couple has properly obtained a marria

    July 28, 2014

  • Right-to-work unnecessary It has been a crime for Indiana employers to enter into labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues since Feb. 1, 2012 — the day then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation making the Hoosier State a “right-to-work” state.Whether Indiana ke

    July 27, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
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