Chocolatespoon: Emily’s Musings

Another article on Uncle Gene

Posted on: February 4, 2007

Clips from one more article Mom had sent a while back about my great uncle, Eugene Sheffer, the crossword constructor:

No Cross Words, Please
by Sidney Fields
New York Daily News
Monday, May 31, 1971

There was really no way of knowing where an expert knowledge of French and French literature could lead a boy from Baldwin, L.I., with a severe handicap.

Even with dystonia, which afflicted him at 19 and deprived him of most muscle control, it led Eugene Sheffer to a full and happy life as a college teacher, an author, a friend of Franch art, movie and literary luminaries and a crossword puzzle expert. He sold his first crossword puzzle when he was 15. They now appear in 175 newspapers around the world.

“He sold his first crosswords to the papers for $5. Before he was graduated from Columbia they were being syndicated.”

Among the papers Mom sent was also a letter postmarked October 25, 1974 forwarded to Gene from the editors at the Seattle PI who had received it from a reader. It begins, “In the interest of the perversion of the English language I would like to cast my vote for Eugene Sheffer. He has not only puzzled me but in many cases baffled me completely…. As a solution to the energy crisis I suggest we send such puzzle editors to the Middle East as diplomats. They would at once be boiled in oil and shipped home. We could then separate the fertilizer from the oil, and unless we ran out of puzzle editors be assured of an ample supply of fuel.” I wonder if Will Shortz gets similarly helpful suggestions from fans…

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