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VOL. 40 | NO. 13 | Friday, March 25, 2016

Who said that? Some old saying not really so old

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I wrote a couple of columns in October 2008 that, taken together, set forth a quotation and then endeavored to correctly identify the source thereof.

That quotation – “I don’t cry over spilt milk, but a fallen scoop of ice cream is enough to ruin my whole day,” attributed to one Terri Guillemets – may be found throughout cyberspace to this day.

I cited a correspondent who was suspicious because Guillemets is a French word that translates to the English “quotation marks.” For that reason, my reader figured Guillemets was someone’s pen name. For that reason, I decided to look into it.

A search at Amazon.com brought up some impressive results, including two references to Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.

Digging deeper, I found that a one-line prescript, ascribed to Guillemets, had appeared at the front of one story in each of those two books. That Guillemets quote was “It was the tiniest thing I ever decided to put my whole life into.” The object of this mysterious sentence, as you might have guessed, was a human infant.

Another Amazon reference was to Totally Toppers and Titles: The Little Pink Book by Cheryl Brado. This book is a collection of quotations and titles of books. A quote from Guillemets is included in the section on Life: “It’s just life ... Just live it.”

By this time, I had a working hypothesis. I suspected that Guillemets, whoever he/she was, had somehow escaped the rigors of actually writing anything longer than one sentence for publication; that this person had successfully become a quotation source. The next item I found at Amazon came close to confirming this.

Encountering Missionary Life and Work, by Tom Steffen and Lois McKinney Douglas, lists Guillemets in its “Reference List,” citing The Quote Garden and a URL therefor. Which prompted a visit to that site. Guillemets is listed as Author/Editor.

Inquiring by email, I received a note that read:

“Terri Guillemets is my pen name. When I began publishing websites over 10 years ago, I received some emails that prompted me to publish all my sites under a pen name to help protect my identity and security. I have not published any paper works of my own, only digital works such as websites, of which “The Quote Garden” is my main pride and joy.

“I have had my own personally authored quotations published in several books, such as “Cherished Thoughts with Love” by Anne Geddes and “Chicken Soup for Every Mom’s Soul” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, et al. I’ve been cited as “American quotation anthologist,” author, etc. … I try to keep behind the scenes ….”

Well, she’s not so behind the scenes anymore. Just Google the name and click on Image and then Page. There is a photo … and the following:

“Word harvester, word lover, curmudgeonesque optimist, infj, hsp, vata-pitta [sic], spiritual, silly cloudgazer, daydreamer, bookworm, obsessed with collecting quotes, devoted to spreading quotatious joy, grateful for family, nature, mornings, hard work, play, photography, hugs, light, seasons, passion, simplicity.”

To which I can only add, Go Terri!

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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