Claim to Fame

I was a crossword puzzle prodigy and enjoyed solving them from a very young age. Well before my teen years, I even tried my hand at constructing them. I was emboldened to submit a daily-size puzzle to the New York Times and they purchased itfor fifteen dollars, which bought a lot of jawbreakers, baseball cards, and DC comics. It was published around the time of my thirteenth birthday. I would later have my first large Sunday puzzle (shown here) published by the Times at age fifteen. Two years later, I would publish another Sunday puzzle to complement the several daily puzzles I had also had published by then.

Will Weng, crossword puzzle editor of the New York Times from 1969 to 1977, sent me the gracious note seen here. It was in response to my request for a recommendation as I embarked upon a job search after graduating from college. As Mr. Weng noted, I'm probably the youngest person ever to have sold a crossword to the New York Times.

Over the years, I've been commissioned to create a potpourri of puzzles, including a sportsword puzzle, a Sweet Valley High-themed puzzle, and a "cheesy" crossword for a dairy concern.

After my first Sunday puzzle was purchased, I shared the thrilling news with my best friend, Abe Minzer. When I called him the Sunday that it appeared in the magazine section, his dad, Leon, picked up the phone. After an exchange of pleasantries, I asked if I could speak to Abe. His dad, who had never been particularly hard of hearing, replied, "Who?" This fruitless exchange was then repeated several more times. Finally, in my mushrooming exasperation and annoyance, I shouted, "WOULD YOU PLEASE PUT YOUR SON ON?" Mr. Minzer, who had set me up masterfully, then said, "Artie, I'm disappointed. I never expected a cross word from you. . . . Hold on."

(There's a postscript: Will Shortz, crossword puzzle editor of the New York Times, with some Sherlockian detective work from David Steinberg, confirmed that I was, in fact, the youngest person to ever publish a puzzle in the Times. I was thirteen years old. Here is a link to a post, but scroll down.)