Category Archives: Howard Waldrop

About Armadillocon

Future Potentate NamebadgeSo, yeah, about Armadillocon. You know, the one that was held at the end of July. While it’s a little late for a con report, I’m going to post a brief one. I’m home waiting on a service technician, who will be by sometime between noon and 5:00. I thought this would be a good time to kill one of the items on my Should Have Already Done List. It’s better than killing someone, such as the person who called at 10:45 wanting to know if I was available because the rest of the service calls are out of town. (No, I thought I made that clear when we talked last week. I have office hours and appointments with students in a few minutes.)

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on going this year, mainly due to distance and money.  Then I learned that Bill Crider, who is a regular, had been diagnosed with cancer.  I thought I had missed the con but found out it was a week later than I’d thought, namely the upcoming weekend.  I looked at the guest list.  None of the headliners appealed, but there was a long line of folks I hadn’t seen in years.  I used to hit Armadillocon just about every year, but since I moved to the other side of the state in 2010, I hadn’t gone.  The summer of 2009 was the last time I was there.

It was a last minute decision, but I was able to make it work.  Armadillocon was one of the first conventions I attended, and it was back at the hotel where it was held the first few years I went.  Nostalgia won out.

Because I literally didn’t register until a few minutes before the preregistration deadline and make my room reservation, I didn’t get the basic room but one a little fancier, at the end of the hall with a balcony.  I came in, noticed a few balloons tied to pieces of candy on the bed, and hit the restroom.  When I came out I saw some items that had been out of my field of view when I got in the room.  A bottle of bubbly on ice with two fluted glasses.  A card in an envelope with a woman’s name on it.  A cupcake alongside a smaller card containing the same same woman’s name.  A bouquet of birthday balloons.  Clearly the front desk had made a mistake. Continue reading

Regarding Tom Reamy: An Open Letter to Bud Webster…

…because I don’t have Bud’s email address.

Dear Bud,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your profiling Tom Reamy in your inaugural installment of “Who?!” in the new issue of Black Gate.  I’ve enjoyed your “Past Masters” columns for years.  You have a tendency to profile most of my favorite writers from my teenage years.  I assume you know which ones to pick because you have exemplary taste.

I was especially pleased that you chose Tom Reamy.  He is an author who is sadly neglected, and I wish someone would bring him back into print in an archival edition.  His work could easily fit into a single volume, and given the size of some of the retrospectives being published these days, it shouldn’t be that hard.

The reason I’m glad you chose him is because, although it’s rather tenuous, I have a personal connection to Tom Reamy.

You mentioned in your article that Tom was born in Woodson, Texas.  We lived in Woodson in the 1970s, from about 1972-1976.  I was only in 3rd grade when we left, so I hadn’t yet discovered science fiction and fantasy, nor would I have known who Tom was.  If I had been a little older, I probably would have made an obnoxious fanboy of myself.

I realize by this time that Tom had moved on, but he still came back from time to time and briefly lived in Woodson circa 1972-1973.  Howard Waldrop writes about visiting Tom in Woodson in 1973.  (Although I’ve met Howard numerous times, my mind boggles that we were that close geographically back then.)  My parents knew the Reamys, but I don’t think they ever met Tom. 

When Blind Voices was published, I had started reading science fiction, although I hadn’t gotten into fantasy very much yet and so didn’t read it until a number of years later.  It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, after someone had dropped off almost a decade’s worth of F&SF at the local used bookstore in Breckenridge that I read some of Tom’s work.

I was impressed.  Somewhere, and I don’t recall where, I found a hardcover of San Diego Lightfoot Sue.  At the time I was (and still am) an aspiring writer with a fondness for short fiction.  Knowing Tom had written some of his stories  in a half horse town not far from where I was attending high school (Woodson wasn’t and isn’t big enough to have a whole horse), as well as the stories themselves, served as an inspiration to me.  There’s one story (that will never see the light of day) that I can trace back to Tom’s work as its inspiration.

In his Afterward, Howard Waldrop writes about the gas station the Reamys operated on the highway between Breckenridge and Woodson.  As soon as I read about it, I knew exactly the gas station Howard was talking about.  It sat in a curve in the road just inside the county line.

The gas station is gone now, but the house is still standing.  That’s it in the photo on the right.  I’d read on the Black Gate blog that you were going to write about Tom and I took the picture when I was visiting my parents in Breckenridge last Christmas.  I think the gas station was where the two pine trees are now, but I’m not sure.

Your article made me do some looking on the internet, Bud, and I learned that Tom is buried in the family plot in Woodson.  I’ll try to pay my respects the next time I’m in the area.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your article.  It brought back memories.  Of all the ones you’ve written, this one is the one I can relate to the most. 

Best regards,

Keith