Young Enough to not Realize that Friends Die

At The American Locomotive Company, I became friends with an older man named Don Keefe. He may have been 40 while I was 23 but we were friendly enough to enjoy conversations. He had been working on writing a novel for a long time and I thought this was interesting. From time to time he’d show me a chapter. It sounded good to me but he was not able to sell anything.

We also talked about poetry. He knew a lot about this subject and I learned a good deal from him about rhythm, rhyme, meter, etc. I began writing poetry myself and would show my creations to him. He’d suggest changes in wording which I accepted. He once told me that good writing involved a sort of rhythm that was hard to describe. I believed it and still do.

I invented a game of referring to each other by our names spelled backwards. I became Oiram Aniraf and he was Nod Efeek. We had an associate who liked the game. His name backwards name was Yevrah Yardnal. Whenever I think of these men, I remember by their reverse names first.

Years later, when I had my first book on Fortran published, I made a trip to his home in Troy to give him a copy. I had not called ahead. When I arrived, his wife responded to my push on the bell. She told me he had died some years before. This came as a shock. I was still young enough to not realize that friends die.

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