Today, Ray Bradbury is 91 years old and he remains one of the people who has most profoundly influenced me. When I was a shy and admittedly geeky 4th grader with a bookish penchant, Mrs. Bixler suggested I read Martian Chronicles. Something in me was changed forever and I never recovered. I went on through the library exploring the darkness of Farenheit 451 (who would believe a TV the size of a wall!) and the intoxicating world of Green Town, Cougar and Darks Carnival and the coming of age of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade-two people who ALL boys carry inside themselves. Dandelion Wine, October Country, The Illustrated Man, I Sing the Body Electric!, Farewell Summer. These stories built a real world, one I still inhabit not only when reading them but in my “everyday” life as well. Ray, who I was later privileged to meet and shoot a television segment with, liked to talk about getting his “degree” in the public library. It was where dinosaurs came alive and the planets became places to see and shape and change. Ray’s is a man embodying such optimism and such unlimited mind that it is impossible for me to read him, talk to him, hear him or even see his photo on a book jacket without becoming excited myself. Ray Bradbury changed me irreparably. I try not to let a day go by that I don’t thank him for it. Happy day of continuance Ray. Dear mentor, dear man, great American and the secret keeper of the future. As long as there are stories in the world, your voice will be heard.
Ray Bradbury’s Continuance