(with apologies to Julie.)
I've been promising since Christmas or so that I would dig up the title for my mom's 1984 Chrysler New Yorker, so that I could have it hauled away as a donation to some charity or other, and get it the heck out of the driveway. I'm not fond of hunting through boxes, though, so I kept putting it off until tonight. I knew it was in either a file box or an accordion file, so a little while ago I grabbed one of the file boxes on my shelves, opened it and took a look.
It wasn't the right box. Not remotely. But I'm very glad I opened that green file box.
Hidden inside were my AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) books and lead figures from circa 1979, which I hadn't seen for years. I think I looked for them when D&D co-creator Gary Gygax died, to no avail. Tonight I felt a rush of nostalgia at the sight of them, these books that figured in on many happy all night sessions with friends back in college, and during a short period in Columbus Ohio in the early 1980s. But the joy of this rediscovery was nothing compared to the delight that came over me when I spotted a brightly-colored piece of paper, sitting loose inside a sheet protector. Here it is:
This was not the very first map of Mâvarin, but it's very early, probably from 1975. It was my master map for years. I think this is the one I paid my next door neighbor, artist Sue Keeter, to draw. The handwriting, however, is mine. I've been looking for this particular sheet of paper for about a decade.
It's totally out of date, of course, and completely unusable. Unable to find any of my Mâvarin maps when I wrote the bulk of Mages of Mâvarin from 1999 to 2002, I made up new place names and arranged geography from memory and for the convenience of the story. That has to be the official version of where things are now, and the way I envisioned it at age 17 must give way. But I've still glad to have the map back.
The second box I opened was full of my mom's papers. The fact that one folder was labeled "Rent" was a dead giveaway. She signed over the car to us a few years before she died, so the title wasn't in this particular box.
The third file box contained our personal financial records from a time when I still worked at Worldwide Travel. Nothing wrong with that, but it's probably close to the seven year retention date.
The fourth file box and the black accordion file were both empty, except for unused folders in the former. I bought them to organized papers from 2008-9, but haven;t yet done so.
The fifth file box wasn't financials at all, bit old writing, or possibly old fanzine stuff. I'm not 100% sure what it is, because it's the heavy, full metal box with the missing hangle that I recognize as being at least 20 years old. Also, it was in a corner of my office where the night doesn't reach, and it's filled to bursting with old, heavy manila folders full of 8 1/2x11" papers.
There should be at least one more file box, and at least two more accordion files, but they're hiding from me. But in looking for them, I've just found something else that's been missing for years. It's a slim, white three-ring binder, with a somewhat ratty sheet of blue paper slipped in the clear front pocket, on which is handwritten a single word: AUTOGRAPHS.
I'm not a huge collector of celebrity signatures, but inside this little binder are quite a few of them, some of which I don't remember having found to put safely in the binder. There's a Polaroid photo of Harry Chapin from 1976 or 1977, with his autograph on the back. There are a handful of signed programs from the Famous Artists Playhouse from the summers of 1972 and 1973, when my brother Steve and I served as ushers. There are letters from Harlan Ellison, Damon Knight, Madeleine L'Engle, Dick Giordano and Ellis Weiner, the latter in response to my fan letter about his excellent novelization of the Howard the Duck film. There's a signed program from the play I Love My Wife, from a time when the Smothers Brothers gave up their comedy act and yet still couldn't seem to get along without each other professionally. There are signed photos of various actors from Quantum Leap and Doctor Who and even Buffy.
Perhaps the most exciting bit of paper in there, at least for me, is a signed contract for a jazz band to play a gig at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on "the 26th day of July, 1960." Although I do have at least one CD of this band, the Firehouse Five Plus Two, I don't care for their music much. But that's not the point. The contract is signed by the bandleader, Ward Kimball, and that's the reason I bought it on eBay from Archives of History nearly a decade ago. Who was Ward Kimball, or as John and I jokingly call him sometimes, Lord Kimboat? He was one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, the legendary animators behind all the classic Disney animated features from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through The Jungle Book. Ward Kimball was also the main person behind the three Man in Space episodes of the Disney anthology tv series. He shared Walt's fascination with trains, and was generally a rather interesting guy.
Beneath Kimball's signature as bandleader is a signature from the band's booking agent. Archives of History made no claim about this second autograph, but I've had a theory about it ever since I first saw it on eBay. Tonight I finally compared it with a known autograph online. I was right. The Firehouse Five Plus Two's "booking agent" for the purposes of this contract was in fact another of the band members, another of the Nine Old Men as well: none other than one of the most important animators of all time, Frank Thomas.
But I still haven't found that automobile title!