The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 29, 2013

December 29, 1915

Robert Ruark (December 29, 1915 to July 1, 1965) was a writer from North Carolina, a popular writer with articles in many periodicals. According to the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (1994) Ruark stayed out of politics, describing himself as a political eunuch. He did not, he said, count himself as a great intellect. I suspect this self-evaluation refers more to the time in which he lived. His pursuits, big game hunting for instance, did not any longer measure masculine prowess, though no one articulated the change. Yet Ruark was smart enough to sense a shift.

Ruark began writing regularly for Field & Stream magazine, a column called "The Old Man and the Boy." These were gathered into books, and the first one, 
(1957) same title as the column, includes this passage:

"Quails are reflexes like I told you. There isn't time to do any figuring. But ducks are ballistics."
"What's a ballistic?" I asked him.
The old man had a lot of big words he liked to spring with no explanation, just waiting for me to ask him. He said curiosity was necessary to intelligence and that curiosity never killed the cat. The cat died from stupidity he said, or mebbe an overdose of mice...

Robert Ruark was actually smarter than most people. He made a good living from his novels and settled on the Costa Brava in Spain in his later years.  He was notable perhaps for his humility. In his will, distributed too soon, he divided the bulk of his estate between his ex-wife and his fiancee, Marilyn Kaytor, food editor for Look magazine.  

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