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RAY & ME
By Don Noyes-More

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READ ANOTHER OF DON'S TRUE STORIES BY CLICKING HERE

    As long as I can remember, and been able to write, I have been scribbling thoughts down on paper. There is a lifetime of memories written in about 22 journals, and notebooks of every sort, size, and color. But of all my experiences in life none had such a profound impact on my being an author as my moment of time with Ray Bradbury.

I was 14 and in Junior High on LA’s Westside. I had started to socialize and date girls; it was new and at times a haphazard activity full of all sorts of “old school” strangeness, and anticipation. Especially interesting was the fact I was openly “Out” at 13…but that’s another story

Suzie Bradbury, a cute little blond was in a number of my classes and we had formed a warm friendship. Suzie was one of only two friends that I shared my passion for writing. By that time I had already written stories on radical politics and I kept an extensive journal about people in my life. Poetry flowed from me at this time, might I add, bad poetry.  

Suzie and I were talking one day at school about her dad being “The” writer of Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and Illustrated Man, all of which I had read. I was almost delirious in the heady atmosphere of possibilities. “You should come on over Saturday and we’ll hang out at my house,” Suzie said while standing in the lunch line at school. “I’ll be there,” I responded, and she gave me her address in Cheviot Hills.

40 + years later I still remember walking up to the Bradbury home, sort of a 1960’s LA architectural piece of Cape Cod meets traditional modern. The house is still owned by the family.

Suzie met me at the door and took me to the back yard. No one but Suzie was home, or so I thought. She gave me a CokeŽ and said she would be back and that she had something quick to do. I saw a big basket chair hanging from a tree and decided that was for me.

I was daydreaming when the basket shook and then turned fast, I was spinning. All I could see was some mans legs as I spun. He was now laughing as I came to an abrupt stop. His hands were on both sides of the front of the basket chair. I leaned foreword and looked up, a blondish graying man was staring and smiling at me. “You must be Don, Suzie’s friend” he continued to smile. “Yeah”, I responded. "I hear you are quite the writer, and on politics too.” Then it dawned on me, "this is the great Ray Bradbury a hero of mine, standing talking to me."  I was so mentally startled at the idea I jumped up and out of the basket at Ray. I found myself head butting Ray’s midsection. He caught me in his arms and started to laugh again. Ray was warm and friendly.

Finally I was able to compose a sentence, “I just read Martian Chronicles and really liked it.” He put his arm on my shoulder and said, “Do you want to see where I wrote it?”  “Oh my God he’s going to show me, me, where he wrote the book, my God!” “Yes sir” I said. He smiled and said, “Follow me.”

We walked through the backyard garden and went toward what looked like a basement door. We walked down four stairs to a half basement affair. There was a long table with house beams above. All sorts of wires, cables, and a lawn mower were in the large room. A beat-up girl’s bike hung from one of the beams. My eye caught the sole item on the long table, a manual Olympic typewriter, light green in color. Ray’s hand was on my arm, he turned, tugged, and said, see there on the table, I nodded at him, “that’s where I wrote it, right there”. I remember being shocked. I thought it was going to be a cool place, inspiring, but it was only a poorly lit room with a tacky green typewriter, my hero wrote the book in a nasty basement. I must have looked perplexed because he said to me, “you okay Don.”  I slowly shook my head and we walked out of the basement. 

We sat down together on a garden wall, “Don if you are going to be a writer you need to have the motivation inside you.  You have to see your story in your head, to experience it. Writing is about taking a long journey inside you.” I asked for paper and pen to write down what he said. When he returned he was with Suzie. He gave me the paper and pen and said, “Never stop writing, never, to the day you die.” He winked at me turned and while walking towards the house he boomed out, “Go write something important,” and walked into the house.  

Ray’s words never left me and I was to quote him first in the Class Newspaper the Las Palmas in an article for graduating students.  

I never saw Ray again and never saw Suzie after 10th grade. She went to another school; we just lost contact. 

I’ve always shared Ray’s words with other writers. The challenges of being an author and writer are many and in my life I have taken many turns and detours to reach home agian.

Ray has not died in my heart. Rest in Peace.

 

READ ANOTHER OF DON'S TRUE STORIES BY CLICKING HERE

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