Howard’s Socks: the definition of creativity

 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.  

8 thoughts on “Howard’s Socks: the definition of creativity

    1. I’m so old I don’t even know what Dobby socks are! Guess it must have been in that picture, huh? Howard’s were ever more magnificent.

  1. When I think of creativity – I think of the Art Fair in Ann Arbor, MI. Every summer, while I was trying to study, this humongous art fair would descend upon Ann Arbor and just take over the town. Every corner and precipice of campus was jammed packed full of art, artists, and buyers. I would usually take one day to walk through, get a frozen yogurt and take a look at ‘art’. My sister says that art is anything that moves you (makes you feel something…anything!) and a lot of what I saw moved me one way or the other. When I see something that moves me…I like to reflect on ‘why’ it moved me – why is this art? And not trash? What makes art (and creativity) so subjective?

    1. What a lovely comment, Evelyn. Thank you. I can only imagine how distracting and fun the art fair was. And, yes, we all all moved–in ine way or another–by different things which is good for those who create.

  2. Wonderful post, Jane. I would love to know what kind of man Howard grew up to be, what creative things he may have done with his life. Did you ever keep in touch?

  3. I did search for him about a year ago–I’d thought that with the middle name “Crampton” he would be easy to find. Those that showed up weren’t the right age. I wonder, too.

    1. Kathy–how terrific! THink of how confusing this would be but then your detective would step forward to solve the case becasue she has help from Howard Crampton Smith to decipher the message!!! Jane

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