Travel author and urbanologist Grinnell is working on a book documenting the legacy of the Federal Writers Project, which produced the American Guide Series, written during the Depression. In preparation for a visit on March 4 to the Clearwater East Library, Grinnell invites local writers to send poetry or prose (350 words or less) to a contest to win one of his travel books. There's one catch: The work must include the words "Sewell Ford'' and "cottony cushion scale.'' Ford was an early 20th century journalist who lived in Clearwater; the cottony cushion scale is a pest that wreaked havoc on the citrus industry and was first noticed in Clearwater in 1898. All entries should be submitted to email@example.com by Friday. Grinnell divides his time between Boston and Chicago.
What's on your nightstand?
The City in Slang: New York Life and Popular Speech by Irving Lewis Allen. I was in the Strand Bookstore in New York City looking for another book, and this one literally hit me in the head. I'm also reading Becoming the Second City: Chicago's Mass News Media, 1833 to 1898 by Richard Junger. I've always been fascinated with details of Chicago and the role of journalism, yellow and otherwise.
What books does a kid read before he grows up to be an urbanologist?
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It always seemed starting out in Scotland and ending up on a tropical island was a perfect traveling experience.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer