A Letter To R. A. Montgomery

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November 17, 2014 by Ray Yanek


Mr. Montgomery,

I haven’t thought about you in a very, very long time.  Had anyone mentioned your name to me I would have been forced to do a double-take, to think long about why that name sounded so familiar, and I still probably wouldn’t have placed it.

I’m sorry.

But Sir, I remember your work.  More importantly, I remember how your work made me feel.

In fact, I feel the effects of your work every single day.

It’s been a very, very long time.  Without help, I probably couldn’t name any of your cavebook titles but then, in the newspaper, I saw a picture of one of the covers and it all came back.  It all became clear.  I remembered DeadWood City, By Ballon to the Sahara, The Cave of Time, and Journey Under the Sea.

Those were adventures, my friend.

Adventures of the grandest kind.

I remember how the summer sun felt when I would get out of my Mom’s car at the library.  I lived in Texas at the time, a long ways from Illinois. I don’t remember exactly what the library looked like, but I remember the longest sidewalk in the world.  The doors to library seemed to only inch closer no matter how fast I ran towards them, and I knew I had to run fast, had to get inside that building, had to bolt directly to that one shelf.

seaTo that one shelf where all of your books would be.  I had to get there before someone else did.

If the books were there, especially the ones that I hadn’t read, it was the best of best days.  Even if the only Choose-Your-Adventure book I could find was one I had already read, it was still a good day.  I was still excited to go back to the story as there was probably a story-line I had missed, a direction I hadn’t taken.  But if all the books were checked out…

Some people would have jumped into the book as soon as they got back into the car. Not me. No.  I needed to wait for the perfect time.  I needed to be home, in my bedroom, on my bed before I would crack those pages, because I was going to savor every word in those books, weigh every decision you asked me to make.

I was going to feel proud when the adventure ended in success.  I was going to be pissed if I found myself turning to a page that was only half-way filled with text because that was always a sign that I had screwed up and led myself to ruin.

Either way, I would then go back and do it all over again, re-read the same pages, but make different choices to see where the stories led.

But it was never enough.  When I would finally close your books I needed more of snomanMayan culture or life under the sea. I needed to know more about the Abominable Snowman. If I couldn’t find another book about those things, I would make it up in my head.

I would tell my own stories.

So Mr. Montgomery, even though I might not have recognized your name, I always remembered you.

Indirectly, I think, I remember you ever single day because you were instrumental in helping choose the adventure that my life has followed.  You were instrumental in helping me to fall in love with reading and writing.

Thank you and may you rest in peace.


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