Tillie Olsen: There Are Many Things I Do Not Know

There are many things I do not know. I realize this. I know a lot of things, but there are so many things to know that I cannot possibly know all of them. There will be gaps in my knowledge, sometimes frequently, no matter how diligently I try to plug them, and sometimes they are surprising.

For example: Tillie Olsen. I read a lot, but I read where my impulse takes me. I’ve loved Tillie Olsen’s writing for a very long time, but I never looked much into her biography beyond knowing that she lived a hard life and was not able to write as much as she should have been able to. I just never looked into things beyond that.

I did not know that she grew up in Omaha (though she was born in Wahoo), the same town that I grew up in. I did not know that she attended Omaha High School (until forced to drop out and work at the age of 15). That alone didn’t interest me that much until I found out that Omaha High School was the old name of Central High School, the high school I went to. Imagine my surprise.

After all, here is a writer I’ve adored for years…and I didn’t even know that we attended the same school (at much different times). How could I have known? How could I have suspected? Sure, I would have found this out if I had done the slightest digging into her biography…but what would have made me think to do that? I rarely get into a writer’s bio, usually paying much more attention to the writing. I just happened to find out and am intrigued that I share any kind of connection.

Frankly, I can’t believe that Omaha or Central doesn’t talk about this more. This is a huge person to have a connection with. I can’t believe they didn’t brag it up more. They probably do, but not enough that I ever heard of it.

I don’t exactly feel too bad about not having known this. There are so many things to know, I could never know them all. Still, this pleases me to know this now.


About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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