I was 24 and Phil was 60 and he was a most unusual man. Articulate but quiet, passionate but calm, and possibly the world’s greatest listener.
By the age of 60, Phil had traveled to more than 40 countries, published stories, articles, and poems in more than 50 magazines, and assembled a personal library of books that overflowed the small rooms of his modest home.
It occurs to me as I write this that books are what all my friends seem to have in common.
Phil and I traded stories for only 3 years before Pennie and I moved away, but we corresponded once a month until that fateful day in 2019 when he left this world to move in with a friend.
He was 97 years old.
Phil always wore a tie. He didn’t have many, but each of them was special to him. He gave his wife, Barbara, careful instructions before he died regarding which tie he wanted each of his friends to have. The tie I received is covered with books on bookshelves. It hangs over the draperies in my study at home.
When Barbara passed away in 2020, I received a phone call from their grandson, Cooper, informing me that Phil had left me his library.
Phil’s library was as eclectic as he was:
The Autobiography of A.A. Milne, (author of Winnie the Pooh)
The Life of Abraham Lincoln, by Tarbell
Literature and Western Man, by J.B. Priestly
Understanding Types, Shadows, and Names. A 2-volume set.
The Gospel of Moses, by Samuel J. Schultz
Hawksbill Station, by Robert Silverberg
The Little Minister, by J.M. Barrie (the author of Peter Pan)
The Shepherd of the Hills and When a Man’s a Man, by Harold Bell Wright
And Behold The Camels Were Coming, by Edward Cuyler Kurtz
And then we have Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Zane Grey, Louisa May Alcott, Theodore Roosevelt, and the complete works of James Whitcomb Riley and William Makepeace Thackeray.
And because Phil was a pastor and a Bible scholar, we have
A fat 4-volume set of Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,
A Lawyer Examines the Bible,
The Treasury of David,
The Old Testament and the Fine Arts, by Cynthia Maus
Christ and the Fine Arts, by Cynthia Maus
and a few dozen books about the Tabernacle in the Wilderness,
along with a couple of hundred Biblical commentaries and Expositions of Holy Scripture.
And then there is the gorgeous 27-volume set featuring the paintings of all the greatest artists of the last 600 years.
Pennie and I bought a new trailer to send with Joe Davis when he went to pick up the books 500 miles away. That trailer is 17 feet long, 8 1/2 feet wide, has a 9-foot ceiling, and is rated to carry 3 1/2 tons. Joe drove home slowly because the trailer was overloaded.
You will notice a couple of new things in the Welcome Center upon your next arrival at Wizard Academy. The first of these will be the smell of delicious food. Pennie is pursuing a coffee cafe license so that people can have something to eat while they sit with a book or a computer or a friend and a glass of wine and forget about their cares for awhile.
The second thing you’ll notice will be the thousands of books adorning the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with rolling ladders in the James Phillip Johnson reading room. And on the wooden header where those rolling ladders roll, you’ll read the last words Phil ever spoke to me:
“You acquire an education by study, hard work and persistence. But you absorb culture by viewing great art, listening to great music and reading great books.”
I scribbled those words on a scrap of paper so that I could add them to the Random Quotes database when I got home.
I had no idea that I would never hear Phil’s voice again.
Roy H. Williams
Want some tips on effective billboard design? I’ve got some in today’s rabbit hole. – Indy Beagle
“In the kingdoms of England, the sound of the bells is already one of the customs of the afternoon, but the man, while still a boy, had seen the face of Woden, had seen holy dread and exultation, had seen the rude wooden idol weighed down with Roman coins and heavy vestments, seen the sacrifice of horses, dogs, and prisoners. Before dawn he would be dead and with him would die, never to return, the last firsthand images of the pagan rites. The world would be poorer when this Saxon was no more.”
“We may well be astonished by space-filling acts which come to an end when someone dies, and yet something, or an infinite number of things, die in each death—unless there is a universal memory, as the theosophists have conjectured. There was a day in time when the last eyes to see Christ were closed forever. The battle of Junín and the love of Helen died with the death of some one man. What will die with me when I die? What pathetic or frail form will the world lose? Perhaps the voice of Macedonio Fernandez, the image of a horse in the vacant space at Serrano and Charcas, a bar of sulfur in the drawer of a mahogany desk?” – Jorge Luis Borges, The Witness
Managing a minor league baseball team in a small town is like running any other business. Your job is to take a bunch of average people who are doing the best they can, and turn them into national champions. Your days are full of competing, recruiting, and marketing, just like any other business. Join roving Reporter Rotbart as he travels by telephone to Tucson to talk to Bill Rogan, the 2019 rookie manager of the Tuscon Saguaros, about the Secrets of Small-Town Success. MondayMorningRadio.com