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Tall trees are falling

October 7, 2003 |

Dear Garrison Keillor,
My aunt Teresa was such a great person, an historian at the Chicago Historical Society for years, and she died last December. She used to send me tapes of your show so I could listen to them as I injected fruit fly embryos in a cold dark room. (It was my post-doctoral work). I really wish you could have known her, and she you; how sad that never happened.

—Alice Schmid

I know the feeling. Giants are passing from our midst. Tall trees are falling. The people who knew us as children, departing, one after the other, leaving us without a past. I wish I'd met your aunt, wish you'd met some of mine. Last week George Plimpton died, at 76, a man of letters and editor and journalist and incomparable storyteller, a prince of bounding enthusiasm and bonhomie in a field of dour achievers. I wish your aunt had met him. He had stories about Hemingway that a Chicagoan would've enjoyed hearing. Now that whole repertoire, that whole swath of history, is gone. This is why we long to put words down on paper that will live after us. F. Scott Fitzgerald died young, at 44, and the people who knew him never said, "If only you could have met him"—the gentleman had his good days and not so good, but the best of Scott was in his work.

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