Above: Pinkey and humorist H. Allen Smith, Alpine, Texas, February 23rd, 1974
Below: Letter from Smith to Pinkey prior to their visit.
YES, in 1974 my wife and I (in our new '73 Corolla) undertook a road trip all the way from the coast of North Carolina down through Texas into Mexico, and then back up through Texas and made our way to Alpine, where I'd arranged with H. Allen Smith to visit him when we got there.
I read my first H. Allen Smith book when I was 12; I used to wander the libraries, looking at random for books which would catch my interest, and--seeing a spine depicting horses wearing eyeglasses and smoking pipes, my interest was, indeed, piqued--and, after reading LOST IN THE HORSE LATITUDES, I became a Smith fan for life.
After my wedding in '71 my bride & I drove down to honeymoon in a cabin in the remote hills overlooking Lake Texoma. We were married on a Saturday; the next morning I drove to a nearby bait-&-sundries store to buy a Dallas Sunday newspaper........while reading through the TV magazine therein included I jumped up with stunned glee to see that a Dallas station would be showing RHUBARB that very night--a movie I'd long hoped to someday see--!!!!--SO, I loaded my wife up in the car and hauled off down the highway into Dallas, where we rented a Ramada Inn room to see the show. Yeah--on our honeymoon. HOHAWHAW! THAT'S the kind of Smith fan I was (and remain). I still recall the pleasant chill that ran up my spine when I saw "Based on the novel by H. Allen Smith" come forth in the opening credits... I do have a taped-from-TV VHS someone gave me decades ago, but never really knew it was out on DVD (except occasional bootlegs). About time. (Oh, and my wife & I have been married more than 43 years, so she didn't hold the diversionary Smith trip against me.)
A lot could be said about my hour's visit with Mr. Smith that 1974 day--I remember it all very well, having been in awe of the encounter...
While I was a'visitin' him, he mentioned he'd just gotten back from Germany and I asked, "Did you go to Neuschwanstein Castle?" He was struck by the question and replied, "Why, that was the object of my visit!" --then he outlined his idea for his next novel: a Texan learns that he is the true heir to King Ludwig's estate, and mounts a hell-raisin' army of fellow Texans to go over and retake Neuschwanstein Castle. I've always wondered whether he wrote any of that book...
I stood right there in H. Allen Smith's home office in Alpine while he signed & inscribed eight books in a row for me (he said, "It's kind of hard coming up with an inscription over and over again like this!"--so I didn't tell him I had 20 or 30 more books out in the car HOHO)...
We saw the original artwork for the cover of THE RETURN OF THE VIRGINIAN before it was published, and I also saw--to my great glee--the original Hershfield drawing of Robert Benchley and H. Allen Smith at table (Benchley grinning, Smith scowling) which adorns the title page of LOST IN THE HORSE LATITUDES, framed and hanging on Allen's office wall.
When I went to Alpine to visit him, he was 67--an age which I will attain in nine months...I was 19 when we met. Time, she mysteriously jus' FLY by-----
Getting back to favorite Smith quotes--I can't source this and I may be slightly paraphrasing, but one I have repeated for years is, "There's a war going on between the Smarts and the Stupids, and the Stupids are winning."
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