I'll probably be posting for the next few days about Armadillocon, but I did want to get this in right away:
Howard Waldrop was going to be a guest at the con, and continue his tradition of doing the closing reading. Of course, he is still recuperating at a VA hospital in Central Texas, and couldn't be there in person, but they figgered out a way he could participate.
Howard is in a VA Hospital in Temple, which is 60 miles north of Austin. I left the Con at 2:30 p.m. because I had a three hour drive to Dallas. My wife grew up in Dallas and I stayed overnight Sunday with my mother-in-law. I finished the drive to East Texas this afternoon.
One reason I wanted to leave the con early was to stop by and see Howard. When I got there Barb Denton, Alan Graham and Howard were set up in a lounge on the floor where he is staying. Apparently Brad Denton laid the plans for the "remote broadcast"
The reading back in Austin started at 4 p.m. and while Howard's pals back in Austin were reading "The Ugly Chickens" we all visited and had a nice time.
When they got close to the end, Brad called and Barb and Howard began to follow along, so Howard was able to jump in and finish up. Howard's spirits and wit remain strong, but he's still a little frail physically (or else he wouldn't be in the hospital). Since I'm a journalist I always carry a camera, and so I took digital pics for posterity of the event.
What impressed me was how, when he began reading,Howard sounded his old self. It was like he was back at the first Armadillocon. I guess that came through to the folks back in Austin, from all reports. After he finished, Howard just sat there for a while listening on the cell phone. Finally he said with a big smile, "they're still applauding".
Afterwards. Barb and Alan left and headed back to Austin. I had to use the facilities and then I said good-bye to Howard. I told him I would mail him a copy a photo taken when he was reading, and I asked him to write down his mailing address at the hospital.
The shudder I got when he started reading his story reminded me of the way I felt when I was a young man and saw the video of Buddy Holly playing "Peggy Sue" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Howard Waldrop is a true genius and a Texas original. It was a coincidence, but I feel very blessed to have been there when he did his reading.