John here taking over for a moment from Bully to write an entry in his blog.
This isn't an entry about comic books. It's an entry about Fred.
Fred was born in 1925 and grew up in the Depression, served in the Navy in World War II. He was my uncle, my mother's only brother. Smart and funny, he was a man I adored and sought to emulate in whatever way I could. He was passionate about his hobbies and passed that enthusaism onto me: from Fred I learned about astronomy and photography, and his passion for trains inspired in me my lifelong love of train travel. His tales of being stationed in England during World War II were the beginnings of my life as a rabid Anglophile. He introduced me to two popular culture series that remain my favorite to these days: Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek. He took me to Basil Rathbone Holmes film revivals and to that weird-ass Shatner one-man show during the late seventies. He took me to Close Encounters of the First Kind and The Seven Percent Solution. One Christmas he and Aunt Flossie gave me what I consider one of the greatest Christmas gifts a kid could ever get: the Superior "Ace" Printing Press. For years one of my favorite activities was rolling out elaborately-designed printed newsletters from the Superior "Ace". It was my first blogging, and it was Uncle Fred who inspired it.
You see, that's what he brought out most in me: the drive and desire to create. His humor, creativity, and drive inspired my own, and he encouraged me to explore, to expand my horizons, to always reach for something beyond my grasp, to improve myself and have fun in the meantime.
My Uncle Fred died on October 15 after a battle with leukemia and myeldoysplastic syndrome. Last year, while he was stuck in the house and having difficulties moving around, I sent him the two giant Annotated Sherlock Holmes sets we published at Norton with a note that told him how much I appreciate him introducing me to Holmes in the first place. I don't think I did my feeling justice in the note. But I think he understood. He always did.
This post is not about comic books. But it is about one of my greatest heroes.
Happy journeys, Uncle Fred. Enjoy the trains up there.
jld, 29 October 2006