Friday, February 29, 2008

Roots 13

Photos often raise more questions than they answer. This early-1930's photo is obviously of my dad, left, and my grandfather Gus, right. But who is the man in the middle? When, exactly, was it taken? Where? And why are dad and grandpa Margason looking so dapper...even to the point of Dad sporting a cane? Time steals facts so quickly. And it is our fault for not marking each and every photo we take with some sort of identification for future years.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Roots 12

The concept of "now" is difficult to really grasp. But look closely at this photo. It's not just of my dad working at a gas station in 1929 Rockford, Illinois (I'm sorry I do not know the name of his friend), it is a tiny piece of now captured forever. It may not be the now through which we are traveling at this instant, but it is, for dad and the world captured in this photo, just as real as ours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Roots 11

I'd posted this 1916 photo of my beloved Aunt Thyra in her confirmation dress some time ago on my Dorien Grey and Me blog, but it is such a lovely photo, and since we're now focusing on important people in my life, I couldn't resist. I hope you don't mind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Roots 10

And then, sometime around 1929, Franklyn Guerdon Margason met Odrae Lucille Fearn, leading inevitably, four years later, to the birth of Franklyn Roger Margason, who would be the last of one branch of the Margason tree. (There are Margasons out there, just none who are related to me.) And time, as they say, marches on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Roots 9

I ran this photo of my dad, circa 1925, some time ago on my "Dorien Grey and Me" blog, but since I have so few photos of dad's early years, felt it appropriate to run it again. His expression is guarded, as though he were not quite sure what to expect next. I seem to have inherited that trait from him.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Roots 8

Franklin Guerdon (named for the captain of the ship on which my great-grandmother Adams came over from Ireland) Margason was born October 11, 1912, and was therefore about six years old when this photo was taken posing proudly with his mother, holding a stick rifle. But while he loved playing soldier as a boy, when WWII came along, he was married and had a child and workig in a defense plant,which deferred him from the draft. Therefore, like an entire generation of young boys playing solier, he never had to become one.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roots 7

Mother was born into a far different world (here probably around 1916)than she left. It was a comfortable world of comfortable homes and ornate furniture, where little girls---before such conveniences as washing machines---wore crisp white dresses with bows in their hair. But it was also a world in which disease swept unchecked across the world, as the influena pandemic would prove two years later when it claimed my grandmother Fearn, mother's mom.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Roots 6

A three year old Odrae Lucille Fearn looks calmly into the lens of time. The year is 1912, and people are still talking of the recent sinking of the Titanic. Fifty-eight more years of life lie ahead of her: a long time looking forward, not the flicker of an angel's eyelash looking back.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roots 5

In the 42 years they had with one another, Uncle Buck (Charles, born 1900) and Odrae (born 1911 and named Odrae because her Norwegian-born mother assumed that was the way to spell "Audrey")were textbook syblings. Uncle Buck's job was to protect his little sister, and mother worshipped her big brother. Both were heavy smokers and both subsequently died (Uncle Buck in 1953, Mother in 1971) of cancer. Their families take great comfort in the assurances of the tobacco industry that there is no link between smoking and cancer. Well, their saying so is certainly all the proof I need.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Roots 4

Charles Fearn entered the world in the first year of the 20th century: a world without radio, without television, without computers, without airplanes . His sister, Odrae, came along nine years later. He went on to have three children of his own, and to become "Uncle Buck" to Odrae's If love were our standard of wealth, he would have been a very wealthy man.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Roots: American Dreams

This house, built somewhere around the turn of the 20th century, was the Fearn family home until my mom sold it to move to be with me in California in 1969. It was built by my grandfather, housed him, my grandmother, their son and daughter. It witnessed history, and laughter, and tears. It was the quintessential American working middle class home on School Street (even the name is Americana), an elm-tree lined street of similar homes in Rockford, Illinois, then known as "The Forest City".

Today it is a treeless ghetto of slum properties where it is unsafe to drive down the street. The Fearns are gone from School Street. So, for many, is the American Dream.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Roots 3

That I do not know when or how Annabelle Erickson met Chester Fearn (the photo above was probably taken around 1905) only goes to underssore how little we know of our past and how quickly entire generations without whom we would not exist are lost to time.

To quote a memorable epitaph: "As you are now, so once were we. As we are now, so shall you be."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Roots 2

My maternal grandfather, Chester Fearn, circa 1905 (?). I wrote a blog on him (and one on grandma Fearn) quite a while back. Born in Pena, Illinois around 1872, a runaway at 12, he worked most of his life in foundries in Rockford, IL. His great loves were dancing and an occasional pinch of "snuss"...a finely ground tobacco snorted through the nose.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The purpose of this photoblog has been to lay out one writer's life in photos, and after several months, they have been pretty much exhausted. But no man, as they say, is an island, and I'd like to introduce you to some of the people without whose lives I could not be the person you've been seeing in all these photos.

This first photo is of my maternal grandmother, Annabelle Fearn (nee Erickson, born in Norway), taken around 1900.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Then and Now

College then, college now. (photo by AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flashback on L.A.

Two of life's many perversities are: 1) We seem incapable of appreciating what we have when we have it,, and 2) Things often seem rosier in retrospect than they did at the time. This shot, taken with Ramon on December 31, 1977, during my days as editor of In Touch for Men magazine, demonstrates both principles.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Friends and Time

I'm not sure how many people are (or will be, if they live long enought) blessed with having the same friends for 50 years, as I have in Tom (right) and Franklin (center) in this photo taken during their visit to me in Northern Wisconsin around 2000. One of the best tests of friendship is the ability, as with Tom and Franklin, to be physically separated for long periods of time with little actual contact, and then to be able to pick up a conversation in mid-sentence when you once again meet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time and the Family

The last family photo ever taken with my cousins Cork, Veda (Jack's wife) me, Nornie (Cork's wife), Jack, Shirley (Fat's wife), and Fat, probably 1992. Now there is just Jack, Veda, and I. Have I mentioned that life is not always fair?

Monday, February 11, 2008

And then there was one

After Mom died in 1971, a visit "home" in 1974 gave me this photo or Aunt Thyra, my cousin Fat and his wife Shirley. Now I am the only one left. In addition to Aunt Thyra, Fat, and Shirley, I've also lost my cousin Cork and his wife Nornie, leaving only one first cousin, Jack and his wife Veda as the only survivors of an entire generation. I can realize that this is the way life is, but I certainly don't have to like it, and I don't.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Once Upon a Lake

1960. Not that long ago, really. No,really. Just a dream or two away, and I was at my folks' cottage on Lake Koshkonong. That so much that was then is not now is a concept I find it impossible to accept. To me, it was, therefore it is.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Overlooks, 1

Well, with yesterday's entry, We've arrived pretty close to the present time in our little chronocologic tour of my life. So now I'm going back to put in any I overlooked which might possibly be of interet to you. Here's one from a 1990 trip to California to visit my good friends Mollie and Barb. Mollie took this one of Barb and me at the San Diego zoo.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Moving on

And so life goes on, and I---so much older but I'm not sure how much wiser---am happily once more living in Chicago. I have a number of good friends like Gary Brown, with me above, who make the journey much easier, I am doing what I love to do (writing), and I am content. What more can anyone ask?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tic Toc Tic Toc

And so time passes. And after 50 years, I am blessed with the same friends. Tom (left) and his partner, Mike, recently visited from their home in Florida, and we went to the Museum of Science & Industry to see the WWII U-505 submarine exhibit. Tom and the U-505 look pretty much the same, but alas I am clearly showing the chips, dings, and faded paint brought on by passage of the years. That it is inevitable does not make it any more acceptable.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Into the Future

I arrived in Chicago in 1958 as Roger. I've returned as Roger/Dorien, and my world is centered on my writing, and places like Unabridged Books, which has been very kind to me. Ed, the owner, Kyle, bravely posing with me, and the entire staff are without exception top drawer people.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


And so, after a 40 year absence, I find myself drawn back to Chicago. I made the decision to return during a visit to Norm in October of 2004, where I had a chance to meet with a couple fans of my books who subsequently becme real friends: Bil Buralli and Cork McGraw. And life moves on.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Portrait Ages

This is one of the first photos taken after my release from Mayo following my successful battle with cancer. The split between my inner and outer selves, as with Dorian Gray and his portrait in in Oscar Wilde's classic novel, has begun. Sheba leant strong moral support during my recovery, reassuring me that everything would be all right. And it was (and continues to be) so long as I can avoid reflective surfaces.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Good Life

I know I spend a great deal of time bewailing the passage of time and the price, like the small print in a legal document, it extracts. But as here in my little house in Pence, Wisconsin, in April of 2000, I can see that life, overall, has been very good to me. And if you think about it, you can probably say the same.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I mentioned Munchkins

Hope you don't mind a couple of no-people-in-them photos, but I wanted you to see that I wasn't kidding when I said my little house in Pence was designed for Munchkins. (The first photo was from the kitchen into the living room, the second the living room.) It was really small, but perfect for me, and I loved it.