Jane Yolen was awarded the Skylark at Boskone 27 in 1990; it was presented by Bruce Coville. The Sunday morning report in Helmuth characterized her as "a distinguished writer and a true mensch." [We love her and we know her - dms]
As such, when David Cherry was awarded the Skylark at Boskone 28, "In presenting the award, Jane Yolen last year's winner told a cautionary tale involving the magnifying lens on her award, a sunny February day and her [burnt] good coat. Also, Susan Shwartz presented Cherry with a fire extinguisher." (Helmuth issue 5, B28)
Jane's cautionary tale has been told at every Skylark presentation since, and sounds something like this:
"When I came up here to accept this award, I was thrilled. I was thrilled all through the rest of the convention, and all the way home.
"It's a handsome piece, too, and of course I wanted to have it someplace where I could see it regularly, so I set it on the ledge of the picture window in my kitchen.
"And there it stood, looking fine. This was New England in February, remember: cold and drizzly and grey. Every day, for over a week.
"But then, one morning the sun appeared, as it occasionally does in New England even in February. As I was working upstairs that morning I smelled something strange... as if I'd left something lit in the kitchen. So I ran downstairs, and there was sunlight in the kitchen, too, pouring through my great picture window, through the lens on the award standing in my picture window focused directly onto my good wool coat which I'd left over a chair by the window.
"The coat had a hole in it, smoking at the edges. I snatched it away, examining the damage. This was my good coat! I needed to talk to somebody, so I called Bruce he'd given me the thing, after all. I explained about the window, the weather, and the sun, realizing as I talked that this would happen to anything in the wrong place on a sunny day.
"And I said, 'I can't keep it in the kitchen, Bruce. I'm going to have to put this where the sun doesn't shine!'
"To which, there was a long... thoughtful... silence... from the other end of the line.
"Then I said, 'I didn't say that.' And I hung up.
"So, every year it is my responsibility to pass along this warning, and the appropriate advice: just remember to
[audience participation line] "Put it where the sun doesn't shine!"