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Wise Guy

AUBURN, IND. (WPTA21)-In Auburn, Indiana’s Evergreen Cemetery there is a small reminder that big things can come from small places, large talents from small towns.

In this home built by his grandfather on Auburn’s South Jackson Street, William Jacob Cuppy came into the world in August, 1884. Cuppy graduated from Auburn High School in 1910, attended the University of Chicago and landed in New York City where he began a literary career that would make him famous. Cuppy wrote book reviews for local newspapers and the New Yorker Magazine but is best known for his books satirizing human nature, politics and human behavior.

To remind us not to take anything too seriously or anyone else for that matter too seriously,” says Dekalb County Historian John Bry, “because everyone has flaws, human condition has flaws, civilization has flaws small towns have flaws.”

For much of his career Cuppy lived as a recluse in a shack on Jones Island off New York harbor, writing books like ‘How to be a Hermit’, ‘How to Become Extinct’ and ‘The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody’, books that poked fun at all things human. He’d come into the city regularly to do his popular weekly talk show on CBS radio then head back to his island to write books, many of which made the best seller list. Will Cuppy battled severe depression all his life and despite all of his successes he committed suicide in September, 1949 with an overdose of sleeping pills. His last wish though was not to be buried on his precious island or his beloved New York City but back home in Indiana beside his mother and grandfather. A quiet, sheltered familiar place where he could rest in death the way he lived his life.

Eric Olson

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