Never met him, but he was a huge part of my life.

It’s not often I blog about someones passing. I try to keep this a pretty upbeat blog. I share the things I do, the things I see and life I live.

I think you will see why I made the exception here…

First a bit of background.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the best things that ever happened to me was when my dad (Army) was stationed in Germany between my 4th and 7th grade years.

Some might think, “Wow! What an opportunity to soak in the culture of a foreign country!” Or maybe, “I bet he speaks German after 3 years there!”

Yeah, not so much.

This will be shocking I know, but I was a stubborn kid. We left Washington state, where we could hike, camp and explore Mt. Rainier.

And moved to a country with no mountains (that I could see) and only 1 TV station. AFRTS (American Forces Radio and Television Service) would start the broadcasts at noon on weekdays (9 on weekends) and ran heavy on 50s westerns (I know em all) Sesame Street and the Electric Company. Instead of learning German I just wanted to go back to the states I did NOT want to be there! (Hell I didn’t learn to count to 10 in German until I watched Hogan’s Hero’s reruns)

Luckily, my folks started me in as a reader to keep me occupied. I devoured books, comic books, National Geographic magazines and anything I could get my hands on. Those three years made me the reader I am today. If I am a sitting, I am a reading.

So what does this have to do with this post?

Well, when it was time to fly back to the world (we were stationed back in Washington!!!) I needed a book for the plane. Its a long flight,

In browsing the store, I found Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler. On that flight home, I was introduced to my childhood hero, Dirk Pitt.

The man could fly planes, scuba dive, drive hot cars, get out of any jam anywhere, and of course every woman loved him. He would just look at them and they would fall for him.

Yep I wanted to grow up and be DirK Pitt. Can’t remember who it was, but I once told someone this and she laughed at me. “You are NO Dirk Pitt, never could be!” and just kept laughing.  Pretty damn sure I never spoke to again. (whoever it was, really don’t remember)

I learned about true team work and friendship with I met Dirk’s best friend and partner in everything Al Giordino. Being the Italian that I am, I loved the fact that Al was one tough assed, slightly short Italian. He could fix anything, and Dirk could always count on him. These two never lost, never gave up and ALWAYS made me laugh.

I first met them on that flight at the end of 7th grade. I continued to read his books well into my 40s. I have also gone back and reread some (Raise the Titanic and Sahara) I don’t know how many times.

This was of course LONG before Kindles. Back then, I was a cheapass relatively frugal person. When a book would come out, I would usually wait for a paper back, or for the hardback to go on sale, or find it in a used book store, before I would buy it.

The exception was Cussler. When I would walk into Barnes and Noble and see that shiny hardback on the new release shelf, It was snatched up immediately. Whatever book I was currently reading was put aside, and I would finish it in a day or two.

He had other series as well, I enjoyed them all, but nothing ever held a candle to Dirk and Al. Each book was as good or better than the last. I can’t even tell you how many total there were….

Sadly, though, Clive Cussler got older. And, as he should, he stepped back from the writing, allowing others to do so in his name. It just wasn’t the same. He thoroughly deserved the slow down, and to enjoy life, but, except for rereading the older books, I no longer was able to live life as Dirk Pitt.

Well there is also the movie Sahara, based not the book. The book is better, but I LOVE this movie, and it is where I learned to “Pull a Panama!”

But then today, sad news was read…

One to the truly best writers I ever read, the man who penned the stories that kept me reading well into the wee hours of the night on both school nights and work nights, the man who taught me what adventure was before I ever had my first, has passed on.

Very few people I have never met have had that much affect over my life. I would have liked to have met him, shared a beer and let him just tell a story or two. Instead, I will make a point to go back and find a few of his books (most are paper, he didn’t allow the older ones to be kindled) and just remember.

The Tony you know now was partially moulded by Clive Cussler, Dirk Pit and Al Giordino. I am glad I found them way back when.

RIP Clive Cussler, you are already missed.

10 thoughts on “Never met him, but he was a huge part of my life.

  1. It’s sad to think that when a creative dies, no more books will be written (Clive Cussler or Dr Seuss), no more poems will be written (Emily Dickinson or John Muir), no more compositions will be composed (Bach or Rachmaninoff), and no more paintings will be painted (Pablo Picasso or Vincent Van Gogh). But thank gawd that all wrote, composed, and painted the ones they did!!!

  2. T – I too have been a long-time Clive Cussler fan. I was saddened when I read about his passing the other day. He certainly had a great life, full of adventure and good times.

    Uh… I think we need to pull a Panama!

  3. I can’t say that Dirk & Al were childhood role models (I’m more of an Ed Abbey / Richard Feynman person) but the books that Clive authored alone filled many hours on flights (and a few boat rides) to and from project sites. I was always drawn to the highly imaginative and slightly probable scenarios each book would be based on – the monitor in the desert being one of the classics. Always a good read!

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