March 22 has a special place in my heart because two people, who had great influence on my life, were born today.
First, my maternal Grandmother (Nanny or Nan when I got older) came into this world on March 22, 1903. Born in Los Angeles in the shadow of what now is the USC campus, my Nanny grew up, married and eventually deeply affected my life.
I fully attribute my love of music, my sense of humor and my love of homemade apple pie to Nanny. She played the piano, by ear, and I fondly remember literally hundreds of times when we’d sit together singing songs from the 1930s and 40s. She knew them all. We’d sing and laugh, and those were special moments that introduced me to a song book I’ll never forget. She also could play contemporary songs. She’d often blow me away when upon hearing a rock and roll song she’d walk over to the piano and play it from start to finish. She was gifted and her legacy continues in my own children’s and grand children’s love of music.
She had a quick, often sarcastic or caustic, sense of humor. It was easy to make her laugh. I loved telling her jokes and she had a natural wit that still makes me laugh.
Apple pie? Yes, she made the best from-scratch apple pie. I not only got to eat most of the pie, I also got the left over crust (she called them bones) all wrapped in cinnamon and sugar.
She lived about 4 long city blocks from us, so I got pie, music and laughter often. I miss her and still cry when I hear certain songs she used to play.
The second person is Louis L’Amour. Yes, I’ve read Steinbeck, Faulkner, Grisham and Shakespeare to name a few. Yes, I’ve enjoyed them, but nobody tells a story like Louis L’Amour. His succinct, action-packed, hero-driven books are fun to read and they point to a culture and time that’s entertaining and should be admired.
As a writer, he was a skilled craftsman using few words to develop character and plot. He had a way to build a scene. His characters were flawed, yet heroic. And, he always treated women fairly and with tremendous respect.
I could always give my son a L’Amour book to read. We shared many over the years and it was wonderful to read them together, but as a Dad it was such a relief not be worried about content. Louis never crossed the line. Louis character’s shot straight and so did his writing.
L’Amour was born in 1908, wrote over 100 books from his life experiences and heart. While I never met him, his books fill my iPad and shelves.
So Happy Birthday Nanny and Louis. Thank you for so many wonderful memories and the legacy of your lives.