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Designing Women, A Young Puzzler, And A Literary Lion

Visits with unconventional woodworkers, The New York Times' youngest crossword puzzler, and an original member of New York's literary Bohemia at mid-century.

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The original manuscript of On The Road belongs IU's Lilly Library. Kerouac's rambling ode has inspired American creatives to abandon the well-worn path for decades now. Today we meet several artistic pathbreakers at various stages of life.

Every time they visit the lumber yard, two local woodworkers are pretty sure to hear something along these lines–

“Pretty big board for such a little lady. Well, that’s bigger’n you are! You got a little hobby going on there, miss?”

Of all the arts, fine woodworking may still be the most male-dominated. We need look no further than TV for confirmation of this trend—whether it’s Norm Abram and Roy Underhill on PBS, or Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. Increasingly, however, women are staking a claim in the sawdust alongside their mustachioed counterparts.

At the Siosi Design shop, two female woodworkers  are not only challenging the gender divide, but also breaking down barriers between art and craft, personal and professional, lifestyle and brand.

Along with the woodworking duo, we visit other creative people flouting expectations about gender and age.  First, we meet the youngest crossword puzzle creator ever to be published in The New York Times.  Bloomington seventh-grader Daniel Larsen had his Elmer Fudd-themed puzzle published February 14, setting a record in the process.

And we pay a visit to a literary luminary in his 80s who helped define New York Bohemian counterculture. Dan Wakefield, perhaps best known for his coming-of-age novel Going All the Way, and for editing the letters of Kurt Vonnegut, went to Columbia University and spent his twenties in New York writing for The Nation and other magazines. Wakefield shares the adventures he shared with the likes of Kerouac, James Baldwin, Nat Henthoff, and Helen Wheeler in his memoir New York in the Fifties.

“I mean, I really wandered into some historic moments.”

Stories On This Episode

Play on Words: A Seventh Grader Puzzles the World

Daniel Larsen

Daniel Larsen, the youngest person to have a crossword published in The New York Times, was playing Scrabble before he knew if the letters spelled real words.

Siosi Design: Blending Art, Lifestyle and Work

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Furniture maker Siosi Design blurs the lines between art and craft, and lifestyle and work.

From New York In The Fifties To Indy In The Teens

Dan Wakefield remembers the night Jack Kerouac bought everyone drinks at the bar after receiving his advance for On the Road, published 60 years ago this fall.

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