The Things We Forget

Forrest J Ackerman at his Ackermansion, 1990 -...

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I read yesterday that Forrest J. Ackerman is dying at age 91. I haven’t thought about him in many years.

Now, I see that this will take some ‘splaining, because it’s a long way between a suburban mama/editor like me, and “4E”. Anthropapa may have worked on some odd, sciencefictiony movies, but not me.

You will need to go back with me to fifth grade. I had a very kind, but very unusual teacher named Mr. Grossman. I’m sure Nana will chime in with some fond memories of him, but what I remember was this:

  • horrible pea-green polyester clothes
  • a blessed understanding that the “gifted” kids needed some space to do their own thing intellectually
  • a very, very strange personal interest in cartoons, comics, and science fiction

It’s that last one that applies most to this story. If we could get our eleven-year-old selves to behave sufficiently throughout the week, on Friday we would have a treat: Mr. Grossman would cover the windows and play us old radio shows, including The Shadow. For school assemblies, our class performed old Abbott and Costello routines. I distinctly remember arguing with him about who was smarter: Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck.

Odd, you see.

One particular highlight of the year was a field trip to the Ackermansion. High up a winding road above Los Angeles, Forry had a home filled to the brim with science fiction memorabilia. And this was prime stuff: Bela Lugosi’s Dracula cape and ring, the original Maria from Metropolis, and even tribbles from Star Trek.

It was pretty much geek heaven, and I’ll hazard a bet most of my classmates didn’t get the appeal.

Ackerman was a founding father of science fiction. I have to look fondly on anyone who inspired some of my favorite authors (including Ray Bradbury, who seems like a founding father himself, and Marion Zimmer Bradley) as well as directors like Steven Spielberg.

He and all his wonderful weirdness will be missed.

(Now I’m outed as a complete nerd, eh?)

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Filed under Books, movies, Silliness and Mayhem

4 responses to “The Things We Forget

  1. I don’t really know much about Ackerman (though having read a lot of SF, I’ve run across the name) but anyone who mentored Bradbury is going to be missed. Teachers are so important! When I was nine, I had a teacher who lent me Dune and The Hobbit.

  2. Nana

    I actually helped out in Mr. Grossman’s classroom after you moved on to sixth grade. He had a great fondness for tuna fish at lunch and an even greater fondness for Garfield the Cat.

    I also remember that wonderful field trip, as I was one of the parent volunteers who went along. The mansion was so full of terrific sci fi stuff
    we had to meander through the rooms in single file. I’ll hazard a guess that most of the boys in the class were quite thrilled by this adventure.

  3. So … which of you thought that Daffy Duck was smarter?

  4. Nana: I remember how jam-packed that house was!

    David: I believe I was pro-Bugs. Daffy just let his temper get away with him, while Bugs always had the witty rejoinder.

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