Wherever I Choose: An Unauthorized Autobiography
Dimensions: 8 1/2 x 11 inches
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Tom Ecker was a teenager and needed a job. So he learned to balance an old push lawnmower on his chin, and people paid to see that. Later, Tom was put in charge of athletics programs in Iowa’s second-largest public school district. He came up with a five-year plan to begin offering girls’ sports, showing the parents—and the nation—the way of the future.
He was captivated by word puzzles. So he created his own game, calling it Wuzzles, and spent the next fifteen years flogging the idea, trying to get someone to buy it. Finally, one newspaper did, then a syndicate. Thirty-five years later, the puzzles still are seen every day by millions of people around the world. In reading this memoir, you’ll get to know a man who was a high school and college track star and who never quit running during his long, productive life.
You’ll meet the energetic showman who pursued challenges and packed enough living—and fun—into his eighty-plus years to merit a memoir twice the size of this one. That’s our Tom, the toast on many a continent. He did cut the manuscript—with enough left over for a Volume II—but he still succeeds, in magnificent fashion, in summing up a life filled with energy and accomplishment and a great deal of cleverness and wit in Wherever I Choose.
This is the small-town Iowa boy who grew up to visit sixty-six countries on all seven continents, who’s been at ten Olympic Games, leading tours to some, writing about others, coaching, and who, when he retired, figured out a way he and his wife, Carol, could cruise the world, for free. You’ll find the mischief, the general merriment, and creativity of clubs and bars, and a great story about an early, key moment with Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn Jenner).
This is the man who, as a college sophomore, bet a friend $10 he could hitchhike from Iowa City to South Carolina over the weekend and be back in time for class on Monday. He succeeded, of course, collecting the bet and a ton of news coverage along the way.
Ecker has those clippings, and thousands more, chronicling his adventures. He has the twenty books he’s written, the interviews and anthems he’s taped, the slides and pictures he’s taken. And, of course, the note a train conductor wrote for him in 1954 directing him to another train.
Humor, love, and good jokes fill this laugh-out-loud book, Wherever I Choose, but cannot disguise a life well and fully lived. It holds a takeaway for all of us: Grab life and wring every bit of laughter and fun out of it that you can, all while working hard and following that long brown path wherever you choose.