By John Hertz: Yesterday being Don Fitch’s 92nd birthday, I wanted to bring him something; as the saying goes, a token but not a measure of my esteem.
I consulted Geri Sullivan in Wales – Wales, Massachusetts. She confirmed DF was still living assistedly where I’d thought him. Health precautions were strict just now, but I could relay through an attendant at the front door. This dissuaded me from gift-wrapping.
GS had arranged with local fan Chris Marble to get DF a flower and some sushi from her and him. Luckily I’d asked before redounding (note that redundant still keeps the old sense of “swollen, overflowing”). GS asked “How about books?” pleasing me that my reputation there was still good. “He’s been reading mysteries,” she said.
A first-rate used-book shop was on my way. Traffic on the roads would be swollen soon, disincentive from an afternoon’s browsing. I got the Nero Wolfe books Some Buried Caesar and Might As Well Be Dead, Georgette Heyer’s historical romance mystery The Masqueraders, and the SF mystery Saturn Run which I brought to your attention here (p. 17; PDF).
CM told me he’d got an Orange Gemstone orchid, and albacore and yellowtail sushi.
I arrived in good time, rang the doorbell, and handed gifts to a greeter. As I was leaving, another attendant called “Would you like to see him?” She didn’t have to ask twice. She set a chair for me outside a mesh-screened window and brought a pad of paper. DF’s deaf; not expecting to see him I hadn’t brought one.
In a moment there he was on the other side. He walked up smoothly, so I supposed easily, with a bamboo staff (i.e. a walking stick as tall as he was). His beard was full and well-kempt. We had a happy 1/3 hour, the duration that house rules allowed. He spoke, I wrote.
He hadn’t brought more than a few feet of books when relocating there a couple of years ago. He was glad of Caesar and Might and the Heyer, had until then only heard of Saturn.
We talked of re-reading. Since SF was thought a literature of ideas, he said, some was hardly worth a second go once its ideas were known. It’s too bad, I said; I feared some authors didn’t trouble to write well.
We talked of re-thinking young and old. I recounted how, at a museum in Japan, a guide had said of calligraphy by Soseki Mûso (14th Century) “The vigorous and self-confident brush strokes suggest that this was written in the later years of his life.”
We told a few jokes. Since I was wearing a nose-and-mouth mask I drew a smiley face.
And, as Mary Poppins had said, it was time for me to go.