The book Be Safe, Girl is a quick read, a thoroughly common-sense book on personal safety, especially for teens, and chock full of smart principles that can enable females of any age to stay safe and avert danger.
CHRISTINE: Thank you for writing Be Safe, Girl and for recently introducing it to the public again, for personal safety is a vitally important topic. This is the second edition of the book that you actually wrote and published years ago. What inspired you to write about personal safety, especially for teenage girls?
RALPH CLARKE: I was moved to write Be Safe, Girl out of concern for the safety of my three daughters when they were teenagers. It was an especially dangerous time for teenagers in those days, for the newspapers and other media carried the message: “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Boys and girls were urged to “tune in”—that is, tune into the message of “turning on,” which meant ingesting a highly dangerous drug called LSD…The “drop out” part of the message meant dropping out of society by leaving your home and family and becoming a vagrant, or perhaps a member of a “commune” of other runaways. I personally know of two close friends whose daughters followed this perverted message and ran away at the urging of “boyfriends,” thus ruining their young lives. There were millions who did this…
Be Safe, Girl was a good seller, but I had to drop its publication because I was challenged by a new job opportunity—to become a “patent agent,” which meant a crash course of study in patent law, one of the most difficult forms of law. Also, by that time my daughters were out of danger, so I dropped the book.
CHRISTINE: What inspired you to re-release this book decades later?
RALPH CLARKE: Bad as the dangers were then, the times seem to be even more dangerous now. It may be due to the declining influence of religion, and of people wanting to “do their own thing” regardless of others. Also, there are random shootings for no reason, and especially, the rise of the internet, which has opened new paths to the teenage girl for sexual predators.
CHRISTINE: You have had books published by major publishers, but now you have turned to independent publishing, also called “indie.” Can you tell the writers out there the differences between the two and when you would recommend doing which?
RALPH CLARKE: Many writers are going “indie” now, for it takes too long time to interest a book publisher for most writers. If you are finally accepted by a publisher, they do wonderful work in producing the book, but you still have to do much of the marketing yourself.
CHRISTINE: Do you have upcoming projects?
RALPH CLARKE: I have a hot project right now which is about to take off. It is a book about Zenith—the great Chicago company known as Zenith Radio Corporation. Zenith achieved enormous success and employed thousands of Chicagoans, especially from the West Side. The company became No. 1 in radio and television.
Chicagoans of the earlier generation will remember Zenith. When asked, they will recite the ad slogan: “The quality goes in before the name goes on.” And Chicagoans will remember “Mr. Zenith,” Commander Eugene F. McDonald.
But after a little over 50 years, it failed and went bankrupt, which should never have happened. I will tell what caused Zenith to fail, and the revelation will be very disturbing to many. The book will appear first as a blog, and the address is www.zenithbook.blogspot.com.
I [also] have some nearly finished works such as novels, short stories and poems, all of which can be completed quickly. Hopefully, some will soon be available.
CHRISTINE: Thank you for sharing your personal motivations with us, for bringing back Be Safe, Girl and for caring so ardently about the safety of females everywhere.