A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Surprise Visit

The Lehigh Valley Express-Times runs one of those "On This Day in History" things, including 100, 50, and 25 years ago today in the Express and/or the Globe-Times, its ancestral papers.

In today's paper was this:
50 years ago today
1964: Just in from Virginia City: "Dennis Flynn, 15, a patient in Easton Hospital since June 30, is a staunch follower of television's 'Bonanza.' This morning he got a close look at one of the stalwarts of the Ponderosa. Little Joe Cartwright (Michael Landon), youngest of the Ponderosa brothers, strode into the hospital room, sank to one knee beside the bed and told Dennis about big Hoss Cartwright. 'You know how much he weighs?' he said wonderingly. 'Three hundred pounds. And he's six feet four, any way you want to measure him.' There was more talk of the Ponderosa. Then a big brown hand grasped a small white hand. 'Take care of yourself, Dennis,' said Little Joe. The tall tanned visitor then walked to the elevator. Dennis is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Flynn, 518 Folk St. Little Joe was brought to Easton by Ann Brewster, of Hess's department store."
Landon had been making an appearance at Hess' Dept. Store in Allentown, which was in those days the "Macy's" of the Lehigh Valley. The woman who had arranged it knew my mother and mentioned that Dennis was in the hospital with terminal cancer. Landon immediately set out to pay the visit. His picture was taken by the newspaper at Dennis' bedside, but he never so far as I know exploited the visit for publicity. (The article as above and a picture of him kneeling at the bedside ran in a small-town paper that evening. We have a copy of the picture, autographed for Dennis.) Dennis was surprised and delighted by the visit. "Thanks a lot," he said. It was an unaffectedly kind act on Landon's part, and one for which I always afterward had a good opinion of him. He didn't have to do it, and no one would have known if he hadn't.

Bro K obtained a scanned image of the page:

That was fifty years ago today. Dennis would be 64 later this year, but he never reached 16.  He had four more days to live.


  1. Very sweet story. May your brother, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  2. "That was fifty years ago today. Dennis would be 64 later this year, but he never reached 16."

    OK, there is some mathematical quirk somewhere. 15 + 50 do not add up to less than 63.

    Even goblins can count, as Beorn would say to a hobbit and some dwarves.

    1. Hans, must you troll even this? What part of "later this year" is hard to understand?

    2. Wow..... you're a sad, sad man HGL.

  3. Beautiful. I hope a stranger was as kind to Mr. Landon on his death bed. He passed from cancer as well. RIP Dennis and Little Joe.

  4. Mike, if I may ask.... were you and your brother close?
    I know all siblings are close in some respect. And any loss of a family member is profound.

    But were you and him good friends? How old were you when this happened to him?

    1. He was 15, I was 16. We were 362 days different.

    2. I have to admit.... I have no idea what that would have been like.
      My mom passed when I was pretty young. I only have 1 sister, but she is 4 years older than me.

      I wasn't asking to be crass. When my mom died I was devastated. I don't know what it's like to have a brother close to me in age. I don't want to imagine what it would have been like if I did and if he were to pass away.

  5. God rest both their souls and may we all meet merrily in heaven.


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