The Suitcase Lady


February 14, 2012, 2:04 pm

I just found out that I am part of a cult. For 39 years I have cherished a paperback children’s book called Who Needs Donuts?. Recently, I discovered that many others share my love of this glorious book. The price of a paperback copy on EBay soared to $700 before the book was republished in 2003, thirty years after its initial publication date. Happily back in print, Donuts is affordable once again.

Who Needs Donuts? was written and illustrated by Mark Alan Stamaty who is the son of two cartoonists and a cartoonist himself. His hyperactive pen and ink drawings first appeared in children’s books but have morphed into political cartoons and social commentary.

Who Needs Donuts? is a splendid love story, the perfect book for Valentines Day. A young boy, Sam, dressed in his cowboy outfit, sets out on his tricycle from his suburban home for the exciting big city (New York) to look for donuts….”not just a few but hundreds and thousands and millions- more donuts than his father and mother could ever buy him”. There he meets Mr. Bikferd, a collector of donuts, Pretzel Annie and the sad old woman who speaks the punch line of the book, “Who needs donuts when you’ve got love?”.

Mr. Stamaty explains the genesis of his delightful tale:

The story behind Who Needs Donuts? began in an all-night coffee shop in New York in 1966. I was in art school (Cooper Union). That coffee shop was one of my favorite places to hang out and watch people, sketchbook always at the ready. So on that particular night, there was an old woman who seemed to be asleep, seated at and kind of draped over the counter near the entrance. After a while, a nicely dressed man in a suit and overcoat came in and asked the waitress for two cups of coffee to go. The waitress asked if he’d like donuts with his coffee. “No, thank you,” he replied. Then, suddenly, the old woman lifted her head, pointed at the ceiling and said “That’s right. Who needs donuts when you’ve got love?”

As soon as I heard that, I wrote it in my sketchbook. When I got back to where I was living, I lettered it out on a piece of paper that I hung on my wall. About 5 years later, I was trying to think of something to write a story about and I looked up at that sign on my wall. I’d always wanted to immortalize that line and the old woman, and here was my chance.

I’ll speak like a true cult follower of Donuts……BUY THIS BOOK!

It will make you happy, no donuts necessary. Click on a picture to enlarge.

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