These questions and answers are taken from electronic messages between author Ed McClanahan and Kentucky high school students. They communicated on KET-Net, a dial-in computer bulletin board, in April 1995.
Hello, Ed, from Suzie Smith and her classes -- gifted/AP -- at Marion County High School. We are betting you remember your day-at-the-park with us two years ago this Spring. I really wish you had been here last Friday -- it was a kind of Ed-McClanahan-meets-man-besotted-with-full-moon kind of day. It seems that a twenty-five year old man, clasping a Confederate flag in his hands climbed to the top of St. Augustine Church spire on the day of the full moon. There he waved the flag, yelled something about O.J. and the trial, generally entertained a community lazy with spring fever. The kicker is he -- after threatening to jump -- was wearing a hard-hat in case he fell. Our driver's education instructor had all drivers in every class roll by the church "just for fun" to keep tabs on the "big doings." Thankfully, the guy got hungry or came down from his "high" and finally relented. Made the front page of the local paper, of course, and gave us all something to talk and write about for a few days. I thought of FAMOUS PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN and how well this Jefferies character would have fit the text. So glad you are on line. Saw the KET production and loved it, being a big fan of Ed McClanahan and all ... Suzie in Lebanon/ 1:50 P.M./one day before spring break and I-don't-have-to-tell- you-what-that-means. My students will be writing.
Hello! My name is Ed McClanahan, and I'm pleased to be visiting with you on the KET-Net Writer's Line. I'm the author of two published books -- a novel titled THE NATURAL MAN, which is about small-town Kentucky high school basketball during the late 1940s, and an autobiography titled FAMOUS PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN, which is mostly about my life during the 1960s and 1970s, when I ran into some very interesting characters. I have also published stories and articles in many magazines.
I was born in Brooksville, the county seat of Bracken County (in northeastern Kentucky) in 1932. I lived in Maysville during my high school years, and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1955; I received a Master's degree in English from the University of Kentucky in 1958. I have taught English and creative writing at Oregon State University, Stanford University (in California), the University of Montana, the University of Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky University. I now live in Lexington, with my wife Hilda, who is a classical pianist.
I would be happy to respond to your questions about my writing, about my life as a writer, or about *your* writing, your goals as aspiring writers, etc. I'm also interested in discussing what you happen to be reading, and what effect or influence it has on your writing and thinking.
Ed: Welcome to KET-net! I feel I know you, from your work. I'm one of those "someday, I'm gonna do that" guys. I truly admire those of you who have done it! Keep it up. Tom Hiter
From: ED MCCLANAHAN
To: TOM HITER
Hey Tom! Don't just say "Someday ..." Get crackin'!
Hello Mr. Mcclanahan, my name is Karen FAulkner, and I am with SCAPA Lafayette.
We are happy to hear from you. Our group is working on Youth Buys Survey, and a commercial.
I personally have never read any of your books, but I propbably will now. I have heard
of you in fact my Creative Writing Class just watched a movie about you. Well we
would like to hear from you again so please respond.
Thanks, and have a nice day. Karen Elizabeth Faulkner.
To Suzie Smith:
Of *course* I remember our day in Lebanon! Hilda and I and Lisa (the late Lisa, alas) had a splendid time. Your account of the madman on the church spire reminds me of my first night in Maysville, in 1948.
I was 15, out cruisin' with my new friends Gene and Johnny in Gene's ragtop '34 Chevvy flivver, mustard-yellow with painted fiery red flames blazing out of the radiator, rumble-seat (as the resident 15-year-old, I was in it), foxtails, ah-oogah horn, the works, straight out of Archie & Jughead ...
So anyhow, there we are, putt-putting along down West 3rd Street, when suddenly we see the entire Maysville police force (which is to say, two patrol cars) assembled at the foot of the Maysville-Aberdeen (Ohio) bridge, with their spotlights trained on the tallest spire of the bridge, which is probably 200 feet above the water. Atop the bridge, we find out, is a guy locally (well) known as Wild Bill Dugan (son of Myrt Dugan, the original bag-lady, and an old soak named Juicy McDonald), who, under the influence of a copious infusion of gin, had climbed to the top of the bridge 30 days before, and had been assisted down, somehow, by the same police, but had inadvertently left behind a fifth of gin at the top of the spire, and after having served his 30 days (for conduct unbecoming a wino, I guess) and been released, has climbed back up ... to retrieve his fifth of gin!
Which in turn reminds me of the several times my thirteen-year-old pals and I climbed the water tower (100 feet) in Brooksville, the better to spy upon a local couple who were reportedly going to make illicit love in the deep grass of the outfield of the high school baseball field, about an as-the-crow-flies mile from the top of the water tower, from which vantage point they'd have looked (if they'd ever showed up, which they never did) like a pair of trained fleas playing leap-frog on a distant cocker spaniel ...
Well, Wild Bill made it down from the bridge, and I made it down from the water tower. But the Internet is higher, and scarier! Aieeeee!
All best -- Ed McClanahan