Some people ought not to leave us at all. Ray Bradbury, who died on Tuesday, is one of these people.
My first contact with Bradbury was in the early 70′s. I saw him being interviewed on national television and I was so intrigued, I wrote him a letter, addressed to the TV station. Lo and behold, he responded. We corresponded for a while, exchanging our own writings and thoughts on writing. He told me to never leave my childhood. To always preserve that magic of not always having the answer.
I had written a rough draft of my Enemy Wore My Face story that appears in my newly published, Kapoho: Memoirs of a Modern Pompeii. He liked it immensely.
Fast forward: I was a literature curriculum writer for the state of Hawaii and presented a few lesson plans at the English Institute in San Diego. Bradbury was there and I was tongue-tied. He was delighted to see how we had incorporated some of his books into our curriculum. He told me then, why he doesn’t fly at all. “If we were meant to fly,” he said, ” we would have been born with wings.”
Fast forward: Nimitz School. Hawaii. Sixth grade class. 1980′s.
The State Culture and the Arts produced one of his plays, The Halloween Tree. I took my class to the stage production and sent their reviews to Bradbury. My students were very honest and added suggestions on how to improve his play, in addition to telling him he did a good job. One suggestion was his title needed to be changed. Once again, he expressed total delight in hearing from us, saying he would seriously consider their critical analysis. My 6th graders added another hero to their list on the day his letter arrived, snail mail, as it has always been.
I recently read my favorite, Dandelion Wine and the sequel, Farewell Summer, 2006. No, I guess writers like Bradbury never really leave us. Thank you, Ray Bradbury.