August 15, 2016
Dear Vince (& Darcy),
First off, I want to thank you for the gift money. Now I can get a decent pair of sandals and still have lucre left over for something else nice…like a yummy veggie burger w/aioli sauce or a couple of argyle sweaters from a district locals call Junkietown West. Payless has good prices. I’ve had bad luck these past two years finding a decent pair of sandals from dead (or almost dead) hobos. Hard enough to get the right size, but too often either the odor prohibits me from boarding the bus or commiserating in an LGBTIFRC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, furry, reptilian or curious) bar; or a strap breaks prematurely, due to the lifeless (or almost lifeless) vagrant’s gangrenous moisture soaked into the leather. Two-plus years being forced to wear Chinatown socks and free-box sneakers even in the warmest weather is more than this esoteric wanderer can handle!
Now that I’ve shocked you properly, please let me be clear: that was a joke.
Vince, after you left for Charleston and your first semester at The Citadel, I found a lovely book mom had packed away with your other stuff. A black and white cartoon collection called “Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley.” After a quick perusal, I had to have it, and so placed it in my room as one of my more cherished possessions. I never told you about that book; perhaps you don’t even remember owning it. The tales revolved around a little boy and his imaginary fairy godfather, Mr. O’Malley; and took place in a town somewhere in America during World War Two.
The stories are populated with various other delightful characters, both fictional and real, such as: Gus the Ghost, Launcelot McSnoyd the Invisible Leprechaun, Atlas the Mental Giant, his parents Mr. & Mrs. Baxter, Jane the girl who moved in down the block, and his faithful (talking) dog, Gorgon (and his father, Rover). As the years passed and I went off to college myself, that treasured novel escaped from my world somehow, and I rarely thought of it again. Till four years ago, when it suddenly popped out of my memory bank.
“Gee, I’d love to have that book again,” I thought, “maybe amazon dot com has it.”
Sure enough they did, but for a pretty penny due to its “collectible” status: $32.49. But I bought it, and once it arrived I reread every single ink-drawn page with immense pleasure. To this day I still have it, though currently packed away in one of my several storage boxes on the loft. It is almost time, though, to pore over it again with renewed delight. It certainly has staying power, and I’m glad you left it behind.
Since we first got in touch after many years–due to our parent’s departure and your role as executor of their will–I’ve thought now and then to tell you about this book. So here I am doing just that, in this letter. Enclosed are two separate printouts of illustrations from that sweet opus, that I got off the Internet…The Crockett Johnson Home Page. Enjoy! Maybe they will sweep you with childhood memories from the early years at 8 Shawnee Drive…or perhaps Monroe Street.
Love as always,
[ Querulous Reader: click on either image below for a larger view. ]
[ On the back of the envelope, I taped this: ]