This past Saturday, the ABAA’s Southern California Chapter held a memorial for our recently departed colleague, Michael Thompson. Through the good offices of Brad Johnson, my following remarks were read, as I was unable to deliver them in person. I offer them here too, in an effort to pay wider homage to our dearly beloved friend.
I suspect that I’m like most of you here today, in that I knew Michael for over 2 decades, our acquaintance first being made, as I recall, in the mid-90s, at one of the then bountiful California book fairs. We recognized in each other a kindred spirit, that is, we both loved the ‘hunt’ for books, and it’s in that vein I’ll relate a story from the late 90s that, I believe, epitomizes Michael’s joy in bookselling…
One summer, we decided to share a booth at Rob Rulon-Miller’s Twin Cities Book Fair. Like most regional fairs, Sunday morning that weekend was, shall we say, slow. Standing idly in our booth, hands in our pockets, Michael looked over at me and inquired,
“Mind holding down the fort? I’m gonna wander around for a bit.”
“No problem,” say I, “take your time.”
20 minutes later, I see Michael purposely striding back to the booth, clutching a little … something, in his left hand.
Entering the booth, smiling triumphantly, he exclaimed, “I just made my weekend!”
“Do you know what this is?” he queried, waving the little pamphlet, leaflet.. I couldn’t quite discern which. “It’s the press announcement for Saul Marks’ Plantin Press! I’ve never seen it before, and what do you know, I find this LA item in Minneapolis! For twenty bucks no less!” He grinned, and continued, “Young man, just remember, anything can be anywhere!”
Well Michael, I’ve never forgotten that advice given decades ago, just as I’ll never forget you. Godspeed my friend, may you enjoy this new journey on which you’ve embarked with as much joy as that you experienced in the one just finished.