Weekly Gem #135 The Outline Chart of My Life
Location: This Weekly Gem is located at 599 Summit Ave. in St. Paul, MN (see the Clue Me! Map). F. Scott Fitzgerald finished his first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” while residing in this ‘house below average, of a street above average, in a room below the roof.’
Though best known for his novels (also The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and The Beautiful and the Damned), Fitzgerald left behind some insightful non-fiction, a diary of sorts, called “The Outline Chart of my Life.” A few snippets:
Year of birth
“1896 Sept. 24th at 3-30 P.M. a son Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald to Edward and Mary Fitzgerald. The day was Sunday. The weight was 10 lbs., 6 oz. The place was 481 Laurel Ave, St. Paul, Minn.”
One year old
“Oct He attempted to walk
Dec Bronchitis. A specialist was summoned but as his advice was not followed the child pulled through.
April Tiring of St. Paul he went east to Buffalo New York where with his parents he installed himself at the Lennox.”
Three years old
“1900 Jan His mother presented him with a sister who lived only an hour.
Feb He celebrated the new century by swallowing a penny and catching the measles. He got rid of both of them.
March His parents sent him to school but he wept and wailed so they took him out again after one morning.”
Four years old
“July His sister Annabel was born. His first certain memory is the sight of her howling on a bed.”
Seven years old
“Sept He had a birthday party to which no one came. He moved to Buffalo, New York, possibly in consequence, where he had a dog named “Beautiful Joe,” a black cocker spaniel, and also a bycycle – a girl’s bycycle. ” (spelling as in his notes)
Fitzgerald grew to be a carouser and alcoholic, after having trouble with school right through his first two years at Princeton (when he dropped out to join the army). He was very active with sports and social activities, but ironically was a poor writer, possibly dyslexic, and his academic achievement was lacking. Some of the entries indicate a general unhappiness during his teens, but things coming together to some degree in his early twenties.
Fifteen years old
“ A year of real unhappiness excepting the fevered joys of Xmas. ”
Sixteen years old
“ A better year but not happy. ”
Eighteen years old
“ A year of tremendous rewards that toward the end overreached itself and ruined me. ”
Nineteen years old
“ A year of terrible disapointments & the end of all college dreams. Everything bad in it was my own fault. ”
Twenty years old
“ Outwardly a failure with moments of danger, but the foundation of my literary life. ”
Twenty-two years old
“ The most important year of life. Every ambition and my life work described. Miserable and ecstatic but a great success. ”
His first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” was published the following March. The remainder of his chart of his life covers the next 15 years, ending when he was 38. That is to say, the copy of his ledger shows the last entry when he was 38, on page 189. The next entry is a blank page 200. It would be interesting to find his notes for his remaining years, from age 39 to 44 ... which, perhaps, could be found on pages 190 to 199?
Here's the hidden gem entry from our Clue Me! map.
“In a house below the average … Of a street above the average … In a room below the roof…”
The home of F. Scott Fitzgerald while he wrote, "This Side of Paradise."
Why It's Interesting
This is the home where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his first novel, "This Side of Paradise." He wrote it in the third floor attic (right side - two windows) of his parents home. The book is semi-autobiographical switching between third person and second person. Many of the characters are developed from people F. knew at the time!
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