A Night of Frost
a novel I wrote in the 50s
In the 1950s, I was light years away from education. I spent a few years in exploratory oil development in Illinois. The outfit I worked for drilled some highly productive wells down near Olney, Illinois, and I received a royalty on every barrel. I quit the oil business two years later and became co-owner of Ford agencies in a couple of small Illinois towns, like Homer. I soon realized that automobile sales and repair was not my calling, so I got rid of the agencies and decided to become a writer. For a year I stayed at home, wrote, and babysat our first child, Eric, as my wife finished law school.
I wrote some novels and some short stories. I didn’t know anything about agents or how someone goes about finding a home for a novel, so I went to New York and, unannounced, walked into different publishing companies and asked to talk to an editor about the novel I had brought with me (several copies). Strangely enough, I met with an editor in every publishing house I went to—Doubleday, Scribners, Putman. Several of the editors pointed out that they had never heard of anybody actually going to their office to submit a novel. The last place I went to was Simon and Schuster. The editor I met was my age and just starting out. His name was Michael Korda, and he would later become Editor-in-Chief of Simon and Schuster. He was very British, and I was struck by how different he and I were and how much we were the same.
On May 21, 1959, the day that my wife delivered twin boys, Owen and Kurt, I received a correspondence from Michael that Simon and Schuster wanted to take out an option on the novel A Night of Frost. I was overwhelmed. What a day!
A couple of months later, I received a message of regret from Michael. Simon and Schuster had reorganized. For Michael it meant that he would move up the editorial ladder; however, the company decided not to publish any first-time authors who were not currently under contract. I was devastated.
The royalty money we had been receiving from the oil wells was diminishing, and I had to go out and get a job. I landed one at a children’s encyclopedia, Our Wonderful World, which was in Champaign, Illinois. I became the assistant science editor. I hated the job and hated my future. But after less than a year, I became research director for an advertising agency. And after a couple of more moves, I landed in education.
During this period and the years that followed, a copy of A Night of Frost not only yellowed in the bottom drawer of my desk; the pages started to disintegrate. When I discovered the condition of manuscript, I had Karen, my assistant, retype the novel.
Although I have mixed feelings, I’m putting it on the Web. I haven’t changed anything in it, and I haven’t reread all of it. Understand that it was written over 50 years ago, by a different me from a different world. But you may find it entertaining. Feel free to download it.
Kindergarteners Showing Off Their Math Skills 1966 Uncut demonstration of at-risk children who were taught math by Zig Engelmann as four year olds and five year olds. The session was filmed in front of a class of college students in August with no rehearsal. Children work addition, subtraction, multiplication, division problems, basic algebra problems, fraction problems, area problems, factoring, and simple simultaneous equations.