Monday, March 15, 2010

Condolences to Keith Olbermann and family -- with a shout out to James Thurber

From Keith Olbermann's blog on Saturday:

My father died, in the city of his birth, New York, at 3:50 EST this afternoon.

Though the financial constraints of his youth made college infeasible, he accomplished the near-impossible, becoming an architect licensed in 40 states. Much of his work was commercial, for a series of shoe store chains and department stores. There was a time in the 1970's when nearly all of the Baskin-Robbins outlets in the country had been built to his design, and under his direction. Through much of my youth and my early adult life, it was almost impossible to be anywhere in this country and not be a short drive to one of "his" stores.

My Dad was predeceased last year by my mother, Marie, his wife of nearly 60 years. He died peacefully after a long fight against the complications that ensued after successful colon surgery last September at the New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center. My sister Jenna and I were at his side, and I was reading him his favorite James Thurber short stories, as he left us.

My condolences to Keith and his family. My father, too, was a fan of James Thurber's short stories. Thurber was a fine writer, funny and irreverent. He wrote for The New Yorker, but his stories were made to be read aloud, unlike most contemporary stories featured in that magazine.

Here's the beginning to "The Night the Bed Fell" from the July 8, 1933, New Yorker:

I suppose that the high-water mark of my youth in Columbus, Ohio, was the night the bed fell on my father. It makes a better recitation (unless, as some friends of mine have said, one has heard it five or six times) than it does a piece of writing, for it is almost necessary to throw furniture around, shake doors, and bark like a dog, to lend the proper atmosphere and verisimilitude to what is admittedly a somewhat incredible tale. Still, it did take place.

Read more:

Read it, and remember the power of good writing.


Anonymous said...

Olbermann is a sorry excuse for a human being. Sad that you look at the bottom of humanity as a role model...

Michael Shay said...

My, aren't you a sorry excuse for a human being your own self. Criticizing a man while he's down, mourning the death of his father. And anonymously, too. I bet even James Thurber is pissed at you.