I don't know what Pat Conroy's been doing lately, but I hope he's working on a novel. Conroy's the author of The Prince of Tides, The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini, Beach Music, The Water is Wide, My Losing Season and The Pat Conroy Cookbook.
The Pat Conroy Cookbook?
Yes. That's the last book of his I read. It was great, and since I've been doing a lot of cooking lately, it's been giving me some ideas. Still. I long for Conroy's next novel, and I hope it's set in South Carolina, the state with which I've had a love/hate relationship since the late 1960s.
Conroy is a South Carolina boy. His first book, The Water is Wide is about the time he spent teaching black kids on an island just south of what is now the resort island of Hilton Head. Around the time he was doing that, I was a young airman stationed about 80 miles north of where he was teaching school. Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was a great place to be, especially since the alternative was Viet Nam. But I wasn't crazy about living in South Carolina. I didn't like the southern boys with whom I was stationed. Billy Ray and Bobby Lee were guys I lived and worked with. Charming boys with smiles as wide as the mouths of hungry gators.
But I think I would have liked Pat Conroy. He graduated from South Carolina's Citadel in 1967, two years before I reported for duty at Myrtle Beach. He played point guard for The Citadel, a military college like the one I went to. In his book about his glory days on the basketball court - My Losing Season - he mentions a guy he played against, Roger Walazsek. Walaszek was on the starting five of Columbia University. Prior to that he played varsity ball for Easthampton High School when I was a sophomore playing for the JV team. Walazsek was good buddies with Bobby Dubiel, whose brother Dick was my best friend in high school. We all played hoop in the Dubiel's driveway.
Dick now lives in Hilton Head, which is a stone's throw from that island on which Pat Conroy taught those kids. Dick and I reconnected recently. Hadn't chatted since the early 1990s. Donna and I are planning on going back to Hilton Head in the fall. We stopped there in January on our way down to Florida. Dick and I may get together then.
I wonder if he's read any of Pat Conroy's books? Dick's a nuclear physicist and his reading tastes probaby differ from mine. But he's a South Carolina boy now, and was a pretty decent basketball player himself way back when. Maybe he'd like Conroy's stuff.