I told this story six years ago (almost to the day, but definitely to the occasion), but it bears repeating. My favorite Halloween memory came about 20 years earlier. And it involved a Staples office supply store. No, really.
In the late afternoon, I parked in the lot of my local West L.A. Staples and headed towards the building. And coming outside at that moment was Ray Bradbury.
Now, mind you, that alone would have been good enough. I've always loved Ray Bradbury's writing, and the first book of his I'd read was his classic Something Wicked This Way Comes, which centers around Halloween. But then, so did many of his works. He wrote a collection of stories, The October Country. One of his creepy stories is The October Game. He wrote a short novel, The Halloween Tree. And much more.
Side note: years after I read the book, Disney Studios made a movie out of Something Wicked This Way Comes. A friend at the studio got me a copy of the screenplay and poster, both personally signed to me by Ray Bradbury. Which I still have. So, the author, book, and the connection to Halloween has long been strong with me.
And then there was Ray Bradbury, walking through the parking lot. On Halloween.
I tend not to go up to celebrities. And Ray Bradbury was clearly not in the best of health, helped by a caregiver. But...this was Ray Bradbury. And it was Halloween, for goodness sake. You don't ignore that and expect to have any self-respect. It would almost like avoiding Santa leaving an Ace Hardware on Christmas. Sure, he's busy because he's the patron saint of the holiday, but he more than almost anyone in the world is celebrating the day to its fullest. And wants the day celebrated to the fullest.
So, I walked over, simply said how much I enjoyed his writing and expected to leave it at that. But he was charming, and engaged me in conversation, helped in part by him finding out that I grew up near where he did, in Waukegan, Illinois. (Glencoe, where I'm from, is about 25 miles directly south.) I don't recall a great many specifics about the conversation, though I do remember his saying how Halloween was his favorite holiday. (Gee, no kidding!)
Which is why it came as a thrill -- and is my favorite Halloween memory -- when, as we parted, Ray Bradbury wished me, "Happy Halloween."
And just as a bonus, here is that poster I have of the movie, Something Wicked This Way Comes, based on his novel -- which as I said was the first story by him that I ever read. (And which, as it turns out, is about Halloween.)
As I mentioned, the movie was released by Disney Studios, and at the time I was in my dark days doing PR, and knew a few of the PR folks over there. One of them, Arlene Ludwig, was aware of my love of Bradbury and this book in particular (made clear when I expressed my great pleasure that her studio had made it into a film) -- and to ever-great and appreciated credit, she got a signed poster for me.
And for good measure, here's the signed copy of the screenplay that he wrote, which she, bless her heart, asked him for.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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