His Life and Times (1891-1964)
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"Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison - 1788


Percy Crosby was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 8,1891 to a family of modest means. His paternal grandparents immigrated from County Lough, Ireland at age 16,in the 1860's. They spoke only Gaelic. His father, Thomas Crosby, was an amateur artist and inventor, who owned an artists supply store with his brother Ben. His mother, Fanny Greene, was an accomplished singer with interest in drama and theater she had acquired from her father, an actor. Percy's artistic talents emerged at an early age, and he often used his father's oil paints and brushes to paint pictures on their backyard fence, which became a theme in the Skippy comic strip. When his father locked up these art supplies, Percy went to the coal bin in the cellar and used his creativity to decorate the cellar walls and floor, much to the delight of his sisters, Ethel and Gladys. His grandparents imbued him with stories of their Irish ancestry and tribal wars. This fascinated Percy, especially the Crosby coat of arms: a knight's helmet with crossed swords above a shield and the Latin motto,"Indignante florebit justus invidia" (the just man will flourish despite envy and indignation). Percy was a lackluster student. School lessons bored him, and he often skipped school to visit the public library, reading history books and literature beyond his grade level.

Percy Crosby
Percy Crosby with family

The Crosby family moved to Richmond Hill, Long Island, in 1900, then a small town surrounded by farmland, where Percy helped the milkman care for his dairy farm and deliver milk. He had many friends, and formed a club called the "Liberty Boys", who played soldiers and marched through the fields with their drums (old tin pans) and wooden swords. Another favorite pasttime was building pedal cars from discarded wood and wheels in the town dump. Percy's sisters were assigned as lookouts, and to raid the Crosby family kitchen for cookies and other goodies to feed the troops. These childhood adventures would later come to life in the Skippy comic strip and novel (1929), on which the 1931 Paramount films, Skippy and Sooky, were based. The Skippy movie was nominated for 3 Academy Awards, and Norman Taurog won an Oscar for best director. The film also launched the career of Jackie Cooper as child star, in the role of Skippy.

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