Bob Boone

Writing Ideas

Larson's Lodge
In September of 1977, I was busy cleaning the Theta Chi house at Northwestern in preparation for Rush Week when someone told me I had a call on the house phone. The caller introduced himself as “Bob Boone—just like the Phillies catcher!” He went on to say that he had gotten my name from “Dr. Douglas.” At the time I was fighting my way through the worst cold of my life, and recall thinking that somehow the Student Health Service had heard about me and was tracking me down. It took me a while to figure out that Bob was talking about Wally Douglas, my Practical Rhetoric teacher the previous year. Mostly I remembered him as this little gnome who convened class once at The Big Pickle and proceeded to drink us all under the table.

As it turned out, Bob had recently taken a sabbatical from his day job as an English teacher at Highland Park HS in order to put the finishing touches on Hack, a sports biography he was co-writing with his department chair, Jerry Grunska. As you can read in his memoir, Inside Job, Bob had decided not to return to HPHS, but instead to try life as a “freelance teacher.” To help finance this move, Bob was teaching night school at Deerfield HS and wanted someone who could run a movie projector, grade student essays, and worked cheap. So for the chance at $3.00/hr. and the vague possibility of squeezing an independent study out of the Northwestern English Department, I headed off to the Glencoe Study Center for an interview. All I remember of that first meeting was that I was so stuffed up that I was practically comatose. I kept telling him that normally I was a little livelier. Either Bob had a keen eye for talent or the short list was extremely short, but somehow I landed the job.

Thirty-three years and zero Cubs’ World Series appearances later, we’re still together. Aside from being a hot ticket item on the IATE/NCTE gig circuit, Bob and I wrote "Moe’s Café: 48 Decidedly Different Creative Writing Prompts" together. I’m the one in the Highland Park HS English Department now.

When I first came to HPHS in 1982 after brief stops at Maine North (site of The Breakfast Club) and Riverside-Brookfield (next door to the zoo), I taught Creative Writing and felt that all was right in the teaching world. Eight years later Indiana University informed the world that it was no longer accepting Creative Writing as an English credit. HPHS promptly dropped the course. Since then if I’ve wanted to teach creative writing, I’ve had to figure out ways to work it into the confines of a “regular” English course. I have a bunch. So when Bob asked me to start writing a monthly feature for Writing Teacher Hangout, I thought I would start by sharing some of these activities I’ve created over the years.

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Moe's Cafe
Forty-eight decidedly different creative writing prompts for developing writers.

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The meteoric life of one of baseball's first superstars: Hack Wilson

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Inside Job: A Life of Teaching
An enlightening and entertaining story of Bob Boone's education as a teacher.

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