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#1 In the Beginning...

It’s a brutal February day in 1959. A teacher teaches arithmetic in Myra Bradwell School’s fourth grade classroom on Chicago’s South Side as a snowstorm rages outside. The boy in the fifth desk in the third row is looking at the windows, listening to the wind and snow outside, imagining another ‘part of the story’ in his mind. For the boy, dinosaurs are alive and well in 1959 Chicago. They roam the streets, wreaking havoc, Jeeps with soldiers racing to contain the beasts.

It will be a decade before he knows the ‘part’ he’s envisioning is called a scene.

He turns and sees classmates passing a folded sheet of paper toward him. At last it’s in his hands. He opens it to see a Crayon drawing of a roaring T-Rex surrounded by soldiers firing at it. He smiles and murmurs, “Perfect.”

The boy puts the sheet of paper that is a ‘storyboard’ into his notebook. Then he passes a piece of paper with the next scene description back to the classmate who drew the storyboard.

Suddenly, he hears his teacher say, “Jack Olesker, you’re never going to amount to anything.”

* * *

Sixty-three years from that day, in the home office where I’ve written many of my more than 1,200 episodes of television, eighteen movies and six novels, I smile with remembrance and whisper a heartfelt, “Thank you.” My lips purse and I offer a kiss to that teacher, wherever she may be. I’m grateful for her having been there, her criticism goading me on…in the beginning.


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