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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
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Kevin Mac Donnell <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 12 Jan 2003 20:29:20 -0600
text/plain (34 lines)
I have stared at my keyboard a long time waiting for some words to seep
through the numbness and sadness. Nick and I first became acquainted in the
early 1970s when he wrote the University of Houston asking about the Twain
books in their rare book room. As a young rare book cataloger (and Twain
collector) then working at UH, it was my pleasant duty to answer his
questions (UH had a small and uninteresting collection). When I later became
a rare book dealer, I had the pleasure of sending some good Twain material
his way, and passing along news of interesting things that appeared in the
market. This was a task that became increasingly difficult as his collection
expanded, and his "wants" narrowed. Nick and I regularly speculated, mostly
in jest, about which of us had the larger or better collection, but because
our specific collecting interests overlapped by less than 50% we found
ourselves direct competitors far less often than many others have imagined.
When Nick, my wife, and I occasionally met together at some bookfair or
other event, I sometimes found myself sitting quietly to one side while they
engaged in animated chatter about their mutual experiences as school
administrators. When Nick retired, he had planned to devote himself to his
Twain collection full-time, and I looked forward to another 20-30 years of
his good cheer and friendship. But that hope was short-lived, and his health
steadily worsened in recent years, and it has been painful to witness even
from a distance as great as mine. I last visited with him at length at the
Twain Conference in Elmira, where I found myself helping him negotiate his
way through the chairs at the end of Lou Budd's 80th birthday celebration. I
have no doubt that Nick would be amused to know that even in death I still
envy him a few of the pieces in his collection that I envied during his life
(we amused ourselves regularly by reminding each other of the pieces we each
thought rightfully belonged in the other's collection). But I doubt Nick
would have guessed the darkness and depth of my grief at his passing. Many
of us have lost a friend. I hope the Twain community at large realizes how
great a benefactor it has lost.

Kevin Mac Donnell
Austin TX