It Doesn’t All Make It In The Book: Deleted Scenes from UNDEFEATED by Steve Sheinkin
We wound up cutting both of these school prank scenes from the final draft of Undefeated. The first is set at the Carlisle Indian School, in the very early days of the school. It’s a well-documented story, but the playful tone just doesn’t fit with the way students described life under Pratt’s rule. The second scene, with young Eisenhower at West Point, was, sadly, just too off topic.
Late one evening, in the Small Boys’ Dorm, Ella Patterson, was awakened by the sounds of foot-stomps and laughter. The dreaded dorm matron leapt out of bed and hurried down the hall toward the noises.
She threw open the door and looked in.
There were twelve kids in the room, which was supposed to sleep three. They froze when they saw Patterson, but couldn’t wipe the smiles from their faces.
Patterson looked around, trying to figure out what the boys were up to. A student named Yamie Leeds seemed to be at the center of the action. He was holding one end of a string. The other end snaked across the floor and disappeared under one of the beds.
“Yamie!” Patterson demanded. “Yamie, give me that string.”
He hesitated a moment. Then, silently, handed it over.
She yanked. Three rats slid out from under the bed and galloped around the room, expertly harnessed to the other end of the string.
Patterson dropped the string and jumped onto a chair.
“Get them away, boys! Get them away!”
Doubled over with laughter, the kids staggered out of the room.
When he first got to West Point, Dwight Eisenhower didn’t see much of a future for himself in the Army. He loved bending the rules, seeing what he could get away with, and piled up demerits for offenses such as smoking in his room showing up late for formation. He’d go on to graduate 125th in discipline, out of a class of 164.
Ike, as friends were already calling him, pulled his most legendary gag during his first year. After yet another minor infraction, he and a friend were ordered to report for punishment “in full dress coats” to room of Corporal Alder.
That phrase—“full dress coats”—gave Ike an idea. It was something, according to West Point rumor, a cadet named Edgar Allen Poe had pulled it in 1830.
Ike and his pal shined the buttons of their dress coats till they gleamed. They put on the coats, marched to the corporal’s door, and knocked.
The door opened.
“Sir!” Ike called out. “Cadets Eisenhower and Atkins report as ordered!”
Corporal Alder looked the boys up and down. His face turned red and he shrieked, “What’s the meaning of this!”
Eisenhower calmly replied, “Nothing was said about trousers, sir.”
Yes, he and Atkins were naked from waist down.
Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, with his wife and two children.