It was the annual Westchester Young Authors Conference this week, the fourth time I've had the privilege to run a couple of workshops on mystery writing for the cream of the county's ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade creative writers. The usual great audience. (Well, I'll maintain that until I see their evaluations.)
A touching moment at the end. A young man, who had been an active and enthusiastic participant in the workshop, came up to me as the students were leaving, and asked me if I'd heard of Perry Mason. Of course, I said yes, but didn't mention that I'd even referred to the sublime literary lawyer in a blog just a few days earlier.
"The author is my great-uncle," the young man tells me, with noticeable pride, and I spot then on his name-tag that his family name is Gardner, although his parents had the good taste not to burden him with either Erle or Stanley as a first name. (Apologies to any current high school kids who rejoice in those given names, and my sympathies for the times you had your hair washed in the toilet.)
He leaves, clutching my reading list. Ah, if only his uncle's name was on it, an unforgivable oversight.
I even used to own a first edition* of The Case of the Cautious Coquette, complete with this wonderfully erotic dust jacket, very daring for 1949. (That was long before Psycho, when all women in America stopped showering for ten years.)
*Lost it in a divorce.