Some who contributed, depart their way
Finally, among the actual disappeared are some people whose lives I came in contact with and whose recent passing leaves a void.
I begin with Virginia Leland, who died at age 98 in Delaware where one of her daughters lives. She was a frequent visitor to my bookstore, but more often found at the Miss Florence Diner. She was a familiar and favorite citizen of Florence, making her rounds on foot in all types of weather. Mrs. Leland, as I always called her, had legions of friends, at the Congregational Church and earlier during her years of work with the Girl Scouts. She was a great traveler, especially overseas, and told good stories about the old days growing up in the eastern part of the state where her mother lived to age 104. I also got to know Mrs. Lelands daughters Joan and Betsy during their many visits to Florence to check up on their energetic and endlessly curious mother.
Farewell too to Bob Boucher, former social worker, hockey fan, and dogged bookman, who was a regular during the early days of my book store and who was my rival at the library book sales we queued up for spring, summer and fall. He had a discriminating eye for rare books and his collection probably was way larger than my own in-store inventory. Slowed in the last years by a stroke, he still managed to get to the book sales and with the help of his wife Yvonne was still on the look-out for that next volume he had never seen before and just had to possess.
Angus Cameron, former resident of the Lathrop Community in Easthampton, died recently in Virginia. I had gotten to know him only in the last couple of years when I learned of his career as editor of some of the countrys top book publishing firms. I had lunch with him twice and was able to interview him about his experiences in publishing and politics. At one point, he was blacklisted by the publishing industry because of his left-wing politics. An 822-word obituary for him in the New York Times was headlined: Angus Cameron, 93, Editor Forced Out in McCarthy Era.
The Times headline for Clark Blackburn read: Clark Waring Blackburn, 94; Enhanced Family Counseling. I had gotten to know Clark Blackburn when he retired to Northampton in the 1970s and headed up the local Childrens Aid and Family Services organization. Little did I realize at the time the distinguished nature of his background, as general director of the Family Service Association of American, an organization of more than 200 family counseling agencies. He was also the author of a best-selling book. Clark, a courtly gentleman who was born in South Carolina, was too modest to toot his own horn.
Like most people who we mostly know only on the surface, Virginia Leland, Bob Boucher, Angus Cameron, and Clark Blackburn enriched our own lives without us ever having realized it at the time.