Saturday, November 27, 2004

My brother, sister, and I got together yesterday for a little Thanksgiving nostalgia. Bob, my brother, had a box of old family photos, and he gave me a few of them. This one isn't dated, but I'd guess it's from around 1949. That's Bob on the bottom left, aiming the rifle. The kid in the middle is John Roy Truelove, who lived across the street from us and who died in an automobile accident on his way back to college around 1961. Francelle, my sister, is the cowgirl on the right, and of course that's me in the back. You might not be able to see the twin pistols I'm holding on John Roy's shoulders, but they were from a double-holster set. Boy, I wish I had them now. Not to mention that outfit Francelle's wearing. The picture was taken at our house at 308 East Hunt Street. There's a vacant lot there now. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A Happy Thanksgiving to all! Posted by Hello

Check it out

Allan Guthrie's Noir Originals Zine: Noir And Hardboiled Fiction

The latest issue of Al Guthrie's webzine is up, and it's a good one. As always. Interviews, articles, fiction, reviews. Great stuff. Click on the linke above and see for yourself.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Motorcade Mania

I mentioned in an earlier post that I once became part of JFK's motorcade. It happened in Austin in the spring of (I think) 1960. It was registration week at The University of Texas at Austin, and I had my parents' 1956 baby blue Buick Special 4-door hardtop (by far the prettiest car the family ever owned) at school because during that week, even freshmen could have cars on campus. JFK was scheduled to speak on the steps of the capitol building, so several of us decided to go hear him.

I know that my roommate, Walter Funk, went along. I know that one of my best friends from high school, Bob Tyus, was with us. And I'm pretty sure that Mike Leary and Allan Rast were along as well. At any rate, I drove the whole bunch to the capitol grounds and found a great parking spot in back of the building. We all walked around to the front and stood in the crowd to hear the speech. I don't remember a thing that was said.

When the speech was over, we all ran to the back of the capitol building and went in through the back door. JFK was coming through the building, shaking hands with people who were in lines on both sides of him. I know that Bob Tyus and I shoved through the press and stuck out our hands for a brief contact. Then we all ran back to the car, hoping to get out of there before the crush of the traffic jammed all the streets.

Somehow we got out just in time to get into the motorcade, only a couple of cars in front of the one that JFK was riding in. We weren't in line for long. A car full of guys in coats, ties, and hats pulled up beside me and motioned me to the side of the road. Like a good citizen, I pulled over and stopped. The secret service guys stayed there for a second or two, until JFK's car went by, and then moved on. I stayed until the entire motorcade had gone past, and then I drove back to the university, my brush with greatness over.

I still remember where I parked that day, along the street that ran by the intramural field, which disappeared under a hive-like dorm more than 30 years ago.

Monday, November 22, 2004

November 22

November 22 is my mother's birthday. She's not around to enjoy it anymore, and the truth is that she didn't enjoy it for quite a few years after 1963 because of what happened that day and what the day came to represent to the whole world. She got tired of seeing the newspaper headlines every year on her brithday, and I don't much blame her.

As I mentioned in another post, I was talking about Huckleberry Finn to my fourth period junior English class at Corsicana High School on November 22, 1963, when the school secretary came by and called me to the door. She said that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. She didn't have any other details, so I went back and finished up the class without saying anything to them about it.

The next period I had to conduct the study hall. This was held in a very large room with, as I recall, nearly 90 desks. By the time I got there, just about every student in the school had heard the news. If it wasn't the quietest study hall I ever had, it was certainly the most solemn. A student had one of those little transistor radios that were so popular at that time. He put it in the window (to improve the reception) and turned it on. We all listened to the reports coming out of Dallas. Nobody talked. A girl named Janis Glenn cried for most of the hour.

I don't remember anything at all about my sixth period class. I'm not even sure I met it. Maybe the principal dismissed classes after fifth period.

Later I saw Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV in black and white. I saw the funeral procession in black and white as well.

Like everyone else who lived through that time, I'll never forget it. And I'm sad that my memories of my mother on her birthday are tangled up with memories of those terrible days.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Anthony Boucher

When I was a kid reading The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction back in the latter 1950s, one of the things I liked most about the magazine was Anthony Boucher's book reviews. (A few years later I went to college and discovered Boucher's "Criminals at Large" column in The New York Times Book Review and my life was changed forever. But that's another story.) Last night I was browsing through the May 1958 issue of F&SF and read Boucher's column. I thought what he had to say was pretty interesting, so I'm going to put it here so you can have a look. Boucher slipped up, using "Middle World" for "Middle Earth," but he was (as usual) a pretty perceptive guy:

"Belatedly the news trickles through that the International Fantasy Award, presented at last year's World Science Fiction Convention in London, went to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

"As regular readers of this department may guess, I could not be more delighted. This superb trilogy— consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King—is one of the major achievements of epic imagination in our lifetimes, and your life is the poorer if you have failed to read it. One warning, however: Tolkien's Middle World is, like Baker Street or the Land of Oz, a trap with a firm and powerful grip. Enthusiasm may here pass easily into mania; and once infected by Tolkien's magic, you may never again quite reenter this 'real' 1958 world of satellites and ICBMs and segregation and recession.

"Allen & Unwin, Tolkien's London publishers, have disclosed that the perfectionist scholar is now 'working as best he can on The Silmarillion, which might best be described as the source book for The Lord of the Rings. We cannot,' they add, 'hold out any hope that it will be published this year.' This is news which should reduce at least the English-speaking suicide rate to zero; who could willingly depart from a life which holds such a treasure in its future?"