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Friday, September 18, 2009
Hey - Was Ed Gorman Hanging Out in My Kitchen ?!?
I recently discovered a new (to me) author. I should be thoroughly embarrassed to admit to not knowing anything about this author previously. And ashamed of myself for not being aware of one of the mystery world's icons.
Ed Gorman is, I think it's fair to say, a prolific writer. He's written about 20 books, and is still writing them. They include five series and a couple of stand-alones. He's edited numerous anthologies. AND he co-founded and edited Mystery Scene Magazine (he is now Contributing Editor). He writes mysteries, crime fiction, horror fiction and western fiction, under three different pen names. AND he writes a blog. Prolific might be a fair term, don't you think?
The book I read was from Mr. Gorman's Sam McCain series - THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED (1999). This from Publisher's Weekly: "There's a dead-on sense of time and place (February 1958 in small-town Iowa) in Gorman's latest, which, despite minor problems with plot resolution, makes an enjoyable start to a new series. Narrator Sam McCain, "a young lawyer in a town that already had too many lawyers," earns most of his income by working as an investigator in Black River Falls for the wealthy and eccentric Judge Esme Anne Whitney, who smokes Gauloises in Chesterfield country and takes pleasure in shooting McCain with rubber bands. The day after a long drive to what turns out to be Buddy Holly's last concert before his fatal plane crash, McCain discovers the body of the wife of Whitney's rotten nephew, Kenny, and then is unable to stop Kenny from killing himself. Everybody, including the loutish local police chief, is sure that Kenny murdered his wife, but McCain has his doubts. Complicating matters are the troubles of a local former football star now crippled by booze and of McCain's teenage sister, who is trying to get an abortion. Gorman sketches the people of Black River Falls, especially McCain's family and various girlfriends, with a sharp eye, and even the very late appearance of a possible villain doesn't spoil the fun: despite the title, Gorman, as usual, rocks."
I'm excited about having more in this series to read and hope I enjoy them as much as I did THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED.
What I really want to know is how come a scene I was sure was a memory of mine, and mine alone, ended up in Mr. Gorman's book?!
Only thing I can figure is that he was hanging out with me in the Arcade Apartments in Cambridge, MD when we were kids. He's a few years older than me, but not much. He could have been one of the kids that, as my dad used to say, was "one of Kaye Alan's friends who was always underfoot." But no, I really don't think that's it either.
I guess I have to admit to myself that the memory I cherish must be a memory many of us must share. While I kinda hate that, it's nice to spend a little time remembering those simpler times. Times when wives could afford to be housewives if that's what they wanted, and young mothers could be stay-at-home moms, if that's what they wanted. Times when we kids knew we had to drop whatever ball we were playing with, in whomever's yard we might be playing in, so we could be home and seated at the dinner table at 6:00 p.m. NO excuses.
Times when moms and dads turned up the radio and danced in the kitchen.
From the time I was 3 months old until I was 16 we lived in a wonderful old apartment in Cambridge, Md. The Arcade Apartments. I loved that place and I wrote about it some in my Father's Day post. All the rooms were big and spacious and the living room and the dining room had big bay windows with window seats. There was a wall separating those two rooms, but it was a large archway. The kitchen was huge, and off the kitchen was a pantry which was larger than most kitchens I've had in my homes since then.
That kitchen. Oh my how I loved that kitchen. My memories are many - and still quite vivid. I remember that we rarely used the dining room. I remember sitting around that chrome kitchen table for meals, and continuing to sit for long periods of time after meals talking. Just talking. We three talked about everything. And, my love of sitting around the table talking after a meal has never diminished. I have to feel a small sadness for families today who seem to rarely. if ever, even have a meal around a table together, let alone that special time following the meal. There was always time for Mother and Dad to have another cup of coffee (and yes, that ever present cigarette) just so we could talk.
And I remember the radio playing in the background.
There was always music.
For some reason, even today, when I see an old radio I immediately hear Teresa Brewer in my head singing "Music! Music! Music! - Put Another Nickel In, In the Nickelodeon."
And Bill Haley - oh my! Whenever a Bill Haley and His Comets song came on, my mom and dad would dance. They would dance all over that big ol' kitchen. And they were good! I watched them jitterbug to Bill Haley more times than I can even count.
So, dang. Imagine my surprise when I read "They still dance in the kitchen on Saturday nights, the radio playing the old tunes, Benny Goodman and Harry James and Artie Shaw, . . . " That's Ed Gorman's Sam McCain talking about HIS mom and dad. Not my mom and dad. dang. Oh well, so I now share my memory of Mom and Dad dancing in the kitchen with a fictional character named Sam. I suppose things could be a whole lot worse. How sad to think about neither of us being lucky enough to have that memory.
Donald doesn't know this yet, but he and I have a date to dance in the kitchen tonight . . .