" My Maiden Effort " contribution
I've been looking over my manuscript record lately, and noting with a melancholy interest how many dear, dead magazines there are. Harpers' Weekly, Human Life, Puck, Hampton's, Ladies' World, the Home Sector, Every Week, the Illustrated Sunday Magazine,-the list is long and in the main honorable. There is much noble blood on the hands of the Paper Trust and the Congress that passed the zone second class postage bill.
Eheu and also fugaces! My personal interest in this chronicle of the departed is due to the discovery that most of these periodicals purchased material from me--and died shortly afterwards.
And looking back more years than I care to mention, I recall that My First Appearance was in a little magazine which disappeared from circulation shortly following my contribution. I seem to have begun my career as an accessory before the fact of its demise.
The magazine was a little periodical, weekly, I think--no pun intended--published in Chicago and entitled The American Youth. At the age of eleven I wrote a fairy story which explained the color of grass as due to a conjoined attack of jealousy and tears on the part of a mythical people who inhabited the world before grass was even thought of. As I related it, these people were small but exceedingly frequent, and they became so jealous of the happiness of a certain prince and princess, that they all turned green with jealousy and then wept so hard that they stuck themselves fast in the mud created by their tears.
I tried it on The Youth's Companion and St. Nicholas but my explanation of grass failed to take root. Then I sent it to The American Youth and in a few weeks received ten copies of the magazine with my story in actual print, thuswise:
WHY THE GRASS IS GREEN
a Fairy Story by Berton Braley
(Eleven Years Old)
Proud!--I'll say so! That's the greatest thrill I've ever got out of writing, and I don't mind admitting that even now my stuff in print always affords me a bit of a thrill--it looks different and more interesting, somehow. Well, doesn't yours? If not I'm sorry for you.
But I didn't continue as a successful boy author--perhaps the avenues of publicity for boy authors were not as broad as they seem to be nowadays. I was eighteen before I made my second appearance in print in anything except school magazines. That second appearance was in Judge--and my verses brought me three dollars. I didn't frame the check, I spent it. I've never seen the check I could afford to frame.
My third appearance--All right, Mr. Toastmaster, I'm through. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.