The great Ambrose Bierce, soldier and war hero, journalist, adventurer, fraud-fighter, and short story writer was born on this day in 1842. Bierce's book, The Devil's Dictionary, was named as one of "The 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature," and his short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge has been described as "one of the most famous and frequently anthologized in American literature.
Bierce disappeared in 1914 into the mists of the Mexican revolution, never to be heard from again.
For purpose of this blog, however, Bierce gets a mention for his story, entitled Oil of Dog, which begins with this amazing paragraph:
My name is Boffer Bings. I was born of honest parents in one of the humbler walks of life, my father being a manufacturer of dog-oil and my mother having a small studio in the shadow of the village church, where she disposed of unwelcome babes. In my boyhood I was trained to habits of industry; I not only assisted my father in procuring dogs for his vats, but was frequently employed by my mother to carry away the debris of her work in the studio. In performance of this duty I sometimes had need of all my natural intelligence for all the law officers of the vicinity were opposed to my mother's business. They were not elected on an opposition ticket, and the matter had never been made a political issue; it just happened so. My father's business of making dog-oil was, naturally, less unpopular, though the owners of missing dogs sometimes regarded him with suspicion, which was reflected, to some extent, upon me. My father had, as silent partners, all the physicians of the town, who seldom wrote a prescription which did not contain what they were pleased to designate as "Ol. can". It is really the most valuable medicine ever discovered. But most persons are unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the afflicted, and it was evident that many of the fattest dogs in town had been forbidden to play with me -- a fact which pained my young sensibilities, and at one time came near driving me to become a pirate.
Read the whole thing here.