By John R. Greenwood
Author Clarence E. Mulford’s 1904 fictional cowboy hero Hopalong Cassidy was rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. My real-life writer hero Hopalong Katzidy is polite and gentle as a lamb. He’s more like the 1940s television version portrayed by actor William Boyd. That Hopalong drank sarsaparilla and never shot first. Cassidy’s one-legged hop was the result of being shot in the leg during a gunfight. My Katzidy’s hop was a scripted attempt to improve his quality of life by removing a disagreeable big toe.
When I read that my friend and writing mentor, author Jon Katz had made the difficult decision to have the big toe on his left foot amputated, I reached out to him. I knew he would not make a life altering decision without weighing all options and risks. My opinion would not be necessary but my support would be a given.
A day or two after Jon wrote about his plans publicly, I offered my help on the day of his surgery. My only role was to meet Jon and his wife Maria at his home and assist in getting him out of the car, in the house, and into his overstuffed chair. Rather than a well choreographed ballet-like maneuver our version was more “Weekend At Bernie’s.” Still groggy from the anesthesia our patient was surprisingly giddy and even chatty. As I write this several hours later I’m quite certain the pain and seriousness has now sunk in.
So why after months of blog silence did I choose my friends traumatic surgery as an impetus to put pen to paper?
Its like a 5th Grade teacher pointing her finger at a ten-year-old boy and asking the question, “Why would you do that?”
“Because Jon told me to!”
My mentor, my nagging writing-group leader, my friend, my hero, my Hopalong Katzidy is a persuasive nudge. He hadn’t been in his big-boy chair more than 30 seconds before he was asking why I wasn’t writing more? Excuses only provoke him to hurl them back at you like a true friend should. Jon smothers excuses like a wet blanket on a trash fire. Jonnie Nine-Toes was not going to allow Johnnie Nine-Fingers to head back to Saratoga County without promising to hit the keyboard when he gets there.
Jon’s support for my writing began with our Hubbard Hall Writing Group over a decade ago. His influence and that experience will last me a lifetime. As a connoisseur of larger than life characters that have crossed my path, Jon Katz is King of the Hill.
This piece was written about him, for him with nothing but sincere admiration and respect. I wish him a speedy recovery so we can fulfill our mutual promise to spend an afternoon sitting in the backyard at Bedlam Farm, swapping stories about the good old days when we had all of our pieces and parts.
This one’s for you Hopalong.
John (with an H)
Click here to visit Bedlam Farm
So glad you are writing again and I do feel sorry for Jon but he is a trooper no keeping him down. Hope to hear from you again soon.ReplyDelete
So glad Jon and Maria had their dear and capable friend to assist Jon back into the comfort of his home. And I can perfectly hear the exchange between you two about your writing. Also so glad you listened to our leader. Speedy recovery wished for Jon, and anticipation of more fun and interesting writing from you, John. (I should talk. - Or write.)ReplyDelete
John, great to see you writing again. We all need a push sometimes to get back at what we like to do. Good luck on future articles, Mr. 9 fingers....(AKA...Dairy Lama).ReplyDelete