When I was a child, my best friend Howard Crampton Smith lived across the street in a house with a sunroom and a porch. We spent long, warm days riding our tricycles on “Bumpity Road” and playing “Simon Says” and “Mother May I” on the steps in front of his house. When we started Kindergarten at Border Star Elementary School, Howard and I walked together those few blocks and played together at recess.
But the best thing I remember about Howard was the day he colored his socks.
Our teacher had each student lie on a piece of craft paper on the floor while she drew around us. Then we stated to color in that outline.
It was when we arrived at the feet that Howard’s genius emerged. Instead of being true to the plain black socks he wore, he decided to make designs on his socks, wonderful, outlandish, colorful patterns and shapes so fanciful no company would or could ever manufacture such whimsy. Thrilled by the concept, I followed Howards’s lead on the right sock but then realize that both socks should look alike. Matching my fantasy sock was very difficult and quite boring. Howard did not entertain the necessity of his socks being identical. He blithely put himself in fanciful socks which didn’t look the least bit the same. They were magnificent.
When I contemplate creativity, I think of Howard and his fantastic socks. I write books I love—but I will never reach the heights he did in Kindergarten.