I've been itching to write something, anything, just to say, "I'm still here."
Whatever I was about to write has to take the back burner today. Friends, Forrest J. Ackerman has died at the age of 92. The Obit is here. There isn't much I can say that isn't being written across the world right now by people as sad and heartbroken as I am right now. I just found out about it a few minutes ago. What I will write about right now is a remembrance.
I met Forry a couple of times at conventions, the first time in 1997 at the first Monster Bash in Ligonier, PA. I was actually a little scared to meet him. Whenever I'm faced with someone in my adult life who meant something to me as a child, I freeze up a little. The inner child comes forward and takes over. I become that shy little boy again. That's what happened when I met Forry the first time. When I finally mustered the strength, I found I needn't have been frightened. It was almost like meeting the REAL Santa Claus.
I approached him when there was a moment to get him alone and I introduced myself. He responded in kind and, while shaking my hand, he noticed me noticing his ring. He smiled and beckoned for me to join him on the other side of the table. He sat me down and presented the ring. He asked me if I knew what it was from. I shook my head, no. He explained it was the ring that Boris Karloff wore in "The Mummy". He pointed out a part of the ring that still contained a bit of makeup from Karloff. He then went on to show the ring Bela Lugosi wore in "Dracula". That was priceless. We talked for a long time and he tested my knowledge of fantasy and horror films, gently correcting me when I faltered.
I then expressed interest in his CD ROM set of the Ackermansion. I told him I was tempted to buy one. He leaned back, his eyes widened and he bellowed, "NO! You must always give in to temptation!!!!!" We both cracked up and I bought that set. He autographed it and we had our picture taken together.
I saw him a couple of times after that, the last being in 2006 at another Monster Bash. It was my Birthday and I was keen to meet Zacherle, The Cool Ghoul. Lo, and behold, they were in the same room together. Forry looked so thin and frail, his skin pasty and oxygen being fed to him via a portable oxygen machine. There were so many people around, but I'll never forget this: I looked over and he looked up, smiled a big open mouth smile and raised his hand high in the air. I saluted him back. We didn't speak, but it was nice that there was that recognition.
I still have that CD Rom set and Picture (I keep them together), but they're all in storage. If I ever dig that photo out, I'll post it with pride.
I'll miss ya Forry. I've missed you for too many years already; your puns, your way of making those old, moldy silents seem new and vibrant. Really, who is going to keep the giants of fantasy's memories alive now?
Rest in pieces, old friend. Horrorwood, Karloffornia will never be the same. And neither will the rest of the planet.