Happy Birthday S.E. Hinton

I read The Outsiders when I was in 8th grade. I immediately moved on to Rumble Fish, Tex, and That was Then, This is Now. I vivdly remember finishing the 4th book while standing at my locker between classes. I began to weep because I was 13, a major drama queen and all I could think was, “I’ll never find another book as good as these are.”

It was years later that I found out S.E. was actually Susie Hinton and she wrote The Outsiders as a 16 year old high school student riveted by fellow students, know as The Greasers, walking the halls of her Tulsa, OK high school. That she was a girl and close to my own age gave the book an even higher standing on my bookshelf.

She turned 65 this week, celebrating quietly in Tulsa where she still lives. I was lucky to be able to interview her by phone a few years ago and she mentioned that she’s very happy with the movie. She was actually on the set each day with the director, Francis Ford Coppola, giving input and making sure he got it right. I know the book has fused together in my mind with the movie and I’m no longer sure which quotes come from which medium. But the Robert Frost poem, the Stevie Wonder song based on the poem, and countless moments are still with me.

I often still yell, “We’ll do it for Johnny” when we come up with a fun plan for the weekend.

If a few people come with me on an after-dinner walk , I might yell out, “Ain’t no one gonna call the fuzz in this neighborhood.”

When I happen upon someone eating cold leftovers in the morning, I like to mutter, “Beer for breakfast there, Two-Bit?”

This is poster I had on my wall:

But the most lasting legacy is the poem. I have rarely been in the middle of rare and perfect life moment when I didn’t think to myself, “Nothing gold can stay.” And then get a little weepy and be grateful for the moment…something I learned from Susie Hinton when I was just a kid…like Dallas.

– Jen


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