Grandma died ten years ago today and I still remember the day as if it were yesterday. She died at 11:05 AM and I, having stayed up all night sitting with her in the hospital, had taken a short nap and woke up as people began to stir around me.
I was sad to learn this morning that William Kershner died a few days ago. For those who don’t know, Kershner was a life-long pilot and flight instructor and is famous within aviation circles. When I was 8 or 9 years old, my dad was taking ground school and as part of that ground school, he had a text book called, A Student Pilot’s Flight Manual. The book was by William Kershner. Even at 8 or 9, I devoured that book, and I had it virtually memorized. I recall taking a practice written test in the back of the book and doing execeedingly well for a 9-year old. It was my first introduction to the fact that anyone who wanted to could learn to fly an airplane. Nearly 20 years later, I got my pilot’s license, and though I had other text books to work from, I would still pull out my old, tattered Student Pilot’s Flight Manual every now and then and study from that.
Of the 7 U.S. Presidents that have been in office since I was born, Gerald Ford is the one about which I know the least. He was the first President to come into office after my birth (Nixon was President when I was born.) I have read biographies of Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. I am familiar with both Bush’s as I have had the opportunity to vote against each of them. That leaves Gerald Ford as the one mystery. I don’t know if he was a good President, or if he was a less exaggerated version of how Chevy Chase portrayed him on Saturday Night Live. I know that he pardoned Nixon, something with which I have philosophical problems, but which I also am told helped to “heal” the nation and put Watergate into the past. If nothing else, he was a life-long public servant, and that has to count for something.
The one piece of trivia that sticks most in my mind with regards to Gerald Ford is that he is the answer to the following trivia question: “Who is the only person to serve as both Vice President and President, and yet was never elected by the people?”
I awoke this morning to the sad news that the dean of science fiction, Jack Williamson, had passed away at his home in Portales, New Mexico. Jack Williamson had a remarkable career in science fiction. He published his first story, “The Metal Man”, in 1928 and has continued to publish stories and novels in every decade since then. His last novel, The Stonehenge Gate was serialized in ANALOG in 2005. He was already a well established writer when 18 year old Isaac Asimov published his first story. The last thing I read by Jack Williamson was his novel Terraforming Earth.
There are not very many old-timers remaining and it is always sad to see them go.
I received word this morning that Tricia’s dad, Ed, passed away on August 19 after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. I hadn’t heard from Rich or Tricia since they headed back to Southern California after Rich’s graduation from his surgery residency, but I had email from Tricia this morning with this sad news.