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In 1950, a whimsical Dr. Seuss 'thank you' to Clarence second-graders

A museum dedicated to Theodore Geisel — aka Dr. Seuss— opened last month in his hometown of Springfield, Mass., but you may not have known the Town of Clarence has a little history of its own with the beloved author and illustrator.

A framed letter is proudly displayed in the Clarence Historical Museum, written by Dr. Seuss himself to Debora Arnold’s second-grade class at the old Parker Elementary School. It’s dated Oct. 16, 1950, and postmarked La Jolla, Calif., where he worked.

“Dear second grade,” the letter reads. “Thank you for all those nice letters you sent me about Horton the Elephant. And thanks for all the drawings too. Some of you draw pictures better than I do."

“Here is a new animal for you to copy,” the letter continues. “He’s called the Unk-Unk, and usually he’s green instead of red and yellow, but I’ve lost my green crayon so you’ll have to have him in red and yellow.”

The letter included his illustration of the Unk-Unk.

“Nice to have heard from you. And please give my best wishes to your fine teacher, Debora Arnold. She sent me a letter, too. Good luck … Dr. Seuss.”

But that’s not the end of the story.

The second-graders apparently mailed Geisel a green pencil. A second letter arrived at the school dated Nov. 27, 1950. It was a drawing of green grass.

“Look!” the letter reads. “Green grass! I can now draw green grass! Thanks for your green pencil! I never owned one before! And thanks for all your wonderful letters. Your friend, Dr. Seuss!”

The letters were found in the old Clarence library by a custodian and turned over to the town’s museum, said Thomas Steffan, president of the Clarence Historical Society.

“It’s one of the most visible and most highly appreciated items we have in the museum,” said Steffan. “The kids love it. The parents love it.”

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