*Picture courtesy of Patrice Louinet
I just got an email from Roger Chambers, Norris Chambers' son, informing me that Norris passed away peacefully yesterday; Friday 22nd.
Norris was, as far as I know, the last person who had known Bob Howard personally.
Over the years, I had been exchanging emails with Norris on a semi-regular basis, and he usually answered them within 24 hours. Less than a month ago, he had been extremely helpful when I asked his help identifying the poems he had furnished Glenn Lord when Glenn was preparing what would become Always Comes Evening. In one of those recent emails, he quoted from memory several lines from "To A Woman", explaining me how much this poem had struck him and had stayed with him all those years.
It will be hard to accept that Norris won't be there to answer my emails anymore.
- Patrice Louinet
Norris Chambers was a link to the past. With his passing, I'm reminded of the tenuous nature of time, how fleeting it is, and how personal experiences can be lost to time forever. This time last year, the last person to see service in the First World War died. The year before, the last combat veteran passed away. And the year before that, the last speaker of the Bo language. There is no one still alive who bore witness to the nightmares of Paschendaele and the Somme, the horror of Jallianwalla Bagh, the sinking of the Titanic, the Christmas Truce, the October Revolution. There are no more Ottomans, suffragettes, sky sailors, Bedford Boys, Cockleshell Heroes, Castner's Cutthroats, or Golden Thirteens. None of the people who fought for the independence of Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, and Ireland now live to see their countries' freedom. And we've lost other literary connections in the past decade: the last people who knew Thomas Hardy and Harry Houdini have also passed away. And now Norris Chambers, the modern world's last personal link to Robert E. Howard.
All the moments of a lifetime are lost, as they say, like tears in rain. But Norris loved to retell those moments, and as long as his personal site is online, people from all over the world can hear them. But what better way to hear those stories than through the man's own words?
Thanks for all the memories, Mr. Chambers.
I once wrote a fantasy tale about a society in some strange place where people entered into an amusement park and paid a sizeable sum of money to enter a dream parlor. Here a technologically advanced system took you through a lifetime on some fictional planet called Earth where you lived a full life from birth to death. After years of living in a strange land where you might have a great life or a terrible one you died and the journey was over. The experience seemed so realistic that you thought the existence on earth was real and that the life there was the center of the universe.
Visitors to this strange, unreal planet were shocked to find that the people there did not live in harmony but fought each other in strange conflicts called wars. Many of the participants actually died in battle and the dream was over for them. The entire population of that planet was composed of inhabitants living the dreams they paid for in another life.
While there they did not know about their real life but lived the life of the dream. None of the earth planet or the life on it was real!
Those who returned from this dream parlor experience had very vivid memories of the lives they lived there – some were short and some were long, depending on the unpredictable circumstances of that particular dream. Very few of the adventure seekers who took the dream trip wanted to try another experience on earth.
Dreams can be a lot of fun, but they can also become very confusing when you begin to wonder which is the dream and which is real.
Is there a lot of fun in dreaming? Sometimes there is and sometimes there is not. It seems to depend on what the dream is about and how you are involved. My advice would be if you must dream make it a good dream. Then it will be fun!
- "Big Dreams are Big Fun," Norris Chambers