I lost a good friend and the Buckeyes lost a good fan this week with the passing of Harry Slawter. Harry lost a long and courageous six-year battle with ALS. I mention Harry because this friend and good man played an important part in the incubation of Myles Traveled.
Bill and I had just finished the first draft of the manuscript, when the evil ALS disease started to ravish Harry’s body. But while his body was beginning to fail him, Harry’s mind was strong as ever and sharp as a tack. We were at that “easy to get discouraged” stage of the book. It had been a long slog to get through the taping, the transcripts, the organization and then the writing of a draft manuscript. And one wondered at that time, as all authors do, “is this worth it, is this any good, will anyone read this?” Doubt was not in short supply.
It would have been easy to have given up at that point and I was in need of a barometer, a second opinion, another pair of eyes. I sent the really rough manuscript to Harry and asked him to be the first person to read it, and to be frank. I sent it to Harry for two reasons. First, I valued his intellect and knew he would give an honest and valuable reaction. More importantly, though I never told him, I sent it to Harry because I was afraid he might not be here when the book was published. And I thought it would help the difficult days pass a little easier for him.
It couldn’t have been easy for Harry to read that manuscript. It was still very rough. We printed it on both sides and punched the more than 250 pages for three ring binders. Harry’s loving wife Rhea, the angel of a lady who cared for him those six years, sat Harry at a table and turned the pages for him – one by one- as he read. I know it took him many days as he tired easily and had to pace himself. But read it Harry did. And when he was done, he called me, and said, “You have something! It will get legs.” Harry’s optimism, in the face of his own struggles, was the affirmation I needed for my vision of Bill’s story. With renewed enthusiasm, Bill and I continued to charge ahead. Myles Traveled was eventually born and today has legs.
How Firm Thy Friendship, Harry. Rest in Peace. As Rhea wrote when she notified your friends all across this country, you’ve “passed to a greater reward and a much better place.”