Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie Knox’

Ronnie Knox, Rest in Peace

Monday, June 9th, 2008

A few weeks ago (May 21) while I was out, my teenage daughter took a phone message for me from someone who started off the message by saying “This is probably not going to make viagra sense to you.” Since I hadn’t been expecting a call, and since my daughter had known nothing beforehand about the subject of the call, her account of the conversation was at first puzzling to me, and I wondered if it involved some strange kind of scam. But then the words “passed away” and “team” (or some other sports-related word) and the notion that I had inquired about someone came through, and I knew what it had to be about.

When last I wrote about Ronnie Knox, the gifted quarterback whose reference to the pleasures of reading Proust had so intrigued me some fifty years ago, I noted that a college teammate of his, Jim Hanifan—later an NFL player and coach—had mentioned in his book that Ronnie had died homeless. Since I had not found anything else referring to Ronnie’s end or how he had spent the decades of his post-football life, I thought contacting Hanifan might be my best (phentermine) shot at learning more. I learned that Hanifan was now part of the St. Louis Ram’s radio broadcast team. Through the radio station’s website I submitted an email query, asking the unknown recipient to please contact Hanifan for me, both to confirm that Ronnie was dead and to see if he could provide any more information. For anyone just stumbling in on this, I refer you to prior posts here and here to catch up on my interest in Ronnie Knox.

About a month had elapsed between my initial inquiry and the phone call. The person that had called and talked to my daughter was Jim Stassi, the director of the Rams’ broadcasts. Stassi had left his phone number, and I called him the next day. What a nice guy! He was apologetic for not having gotten around to calling sooner. Anyway, he had talked to “Coach Hanifan” and could attest that Ronnie Knox had indeed died. He also mentioned that a San Francisco Chronicle writer named Ira Miller had written a piece about Ronnie at the time. I thought he said Ronnie had died in 1986 or so, but I may have cytotec misunderstood him.

Now I had to consider that the “few years ago” in Hanifan’s book from 2003 might be closer to twenty years. I went back and checked online for California death notices that far back and came across the definitive (birth date is Ronnie’s) answer: Ronald Knox, born in Illinois on February 14, 1935, died in San Francisco on May 4, 1992.

Unfortunately the online archives of the Chronicle only go back to 1995, so I will have to track down a physical (or microfiche) copy of the paper in a library to see the Miller piece that Stassi mentioned. I did find online, however, in the archives of the Los Angeles Times an article from July 17, 1988, when Ronnie Knox was 53. I paid $3.95 to get the full text of this article, which was a treasure trove of information on Ronnie (including the years after football), his stepfather, and other family members. The writer, Bob Oates, or an assistant, had interviewed both Ronnie and his notorious stepfather Harvey. Without quoting too extensively from the article, I will pass on some of the information that was completely new to me, and which helps fill in the missing years and casts a different light on some of the earlier strange goings on.

About Ronnie’s appearance, the author mainly affirms that he hasn’t changed all that much since a much earlier description was made in the LA Times:

To Times writer Cecil Smith 34 years ago, Ronnie was “a big, rangy kid, handsome, with tousled brown hair and hazel eyes, an easy, relaxed manner and a great deal of physical charm.” And most of that still goes. Ronnie’s weight and hair are almost unchanged today, although, like many old quarterbacks, he is noticeably round-shouldered.

Ronnie had evidently led a bohemian existence from the time he quit football until the interview thirty years later, and presumably continued to do so until his death. Hanifan had called him “homeless” when he died, but from the Times article it sounds as though he had been pretty close to that much of the time. At the time of the interview, he was moving out of a “one-room apartment” he’d been in only a week. I said his life was that of a “bohemian” rather than a poor transient because he evidently felt he was devoting his life to literature. However, if belonging to an artistic community is required for bohemian status, then he may not qualify.

Basically he seems to have been a drifter who wrote poems, tried various jobs (including coaching eight-man football for a Baptist school and working in the kitchen of a San Francisco harbor boat), and went through a number of career false starts. The article speaks of his longing to go to sea, but not of his having done so. Neither comradeship nor romantic attachments are mentioned, so one gets the picture of a solitary vagabond, which may not be accurate. I think of the phone call from Ronnie that Hanifan didn’t take because of a meeting he was in. Ronnie’s summary of the past thirty years: “Like James Fenimore Cooper’s noble savage, I’ve been away.”

The constant through these years was his devotion to literature, both the reading and writing of it. Over the years Ronnie wrote many poems, and had had the manuscript of a novel called Masquerade (on the theme of life is but a dream), which he considered his masterpiece, stolen along with hundreds of his poems in a suitcase from outside a motel in Galveston. Obviously he was not storing everything on a hard drive or remote server in those days.

Harvey, the stepfather, who, according to the article, had gained and lost several fortunes in his up-and-down life as a promoter of things like real estate developments, in addition to the careers of his children, said he always helped Ronnie when he could and alluded to Ronnie’s “emotional problems.” There’s no way to know exactly what that meant. Had there been serious mental breakdowns? There was no mention of drugs or alcohol. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Ronnie was incapable of living a normal life with a regular job. Ronnie seems to have been given to expressions that don’t make obvious sense both in his speech and poetry. For example the article quotes him as saying, “The trick is to stay fluid without turning into H2O.”

Ronnie had been married for four years to a “Viennese artist,” but the divorce had come in 1964. No children were mentioned. Ronnie’s sister, Patricia, who was referred to as a millionaire in the article, lived in Florida. His mother was said to be dying of cancer at the time of the article. Ronnie also had a half-brother I hadn’t heard of before.

I recently came across online a Pageant magazine from July 1956 that featured Pat Knox (then twenty-three) in her starlet phase. She had a good figure, I’ll say that. There’s a family shot of all the Knoxes, including Ronnie’s and Pat’s baby half-brother. The magazine was for sale on eBay. The fifties were a strange time, and looking through a Pageant magazine is a good way to be reminded of that. Perhaps only the fifties could have given rise to the sixties. Is it just that those were the decades of my youth, or have the subsequent decades really been blander, despite their own momentous events? Decades of my youth, I’d guess.

The LA Times article gave a little information about Ronnie’s actual father Dr. Raoul Landry, who was a professor of nuclear physics, of all things. Interestingly, a Google search turned up a man of that same name as having been a senior on the 1925 football squad at Southwestern Louisiana. There’s no way to tell if it is Ronnie’s father, but the age fits. From the LA Times article one gets the feeling that Harvey Knox may have stolen the prof’s wife, but I guess the couple could have been separated already when Harvey met Marjorie Landry, whom he first spotted making machine guns in an aircraft factory. In any case they married the same day the divorce went through.

Ronnie was seven at the time of his mother’s remarriage, and it must have been quite jarring to change his last name at that age, never mind to suddenly have a new father. I don’t want to engage too much in uninformed psychological analysis, but I can’t help noticing that this was perhaps the first of many abrupt changes in Ronnie’s life. Harvey set about teaching young Ronnie how to play football right away, initially against Ronnie’s desire. But, according to Harvey, the boy’s extraordinary natural talent, even at seven, was dramatically revealed in a way befitting the start of a legend.

In addition to saying something about what Ronnie had been up to since he quit football, the article also challenged my previous understanding of the early Ronnie Knox story, i.e., what went on back in Ronnie’s high school and college days. The article flatly states as fact that Ronnie was always the one calling the shots about his numerous moves from team to team and school to school, sometimes even going against the good advice of Harvey. This is contrary to everything else that I’ve read, and it’s hard to accept that all the contemporary accounts would have been so wrong.

OK, that’s what I wrote. Since then, and at the last minute (before posting), so to speak, I found online the original Harvey Knox article in the September 6, 1954 Sports Illustrated issue called Why Ronnie Knox Quit California. Although I looked for it a couple of months ago and couldn’t find it, it now turns up in the SI Vault. Lo and behold, there is the same account of Ronnie’s making the decisions about high school and college transfers due to dissatisfaction with his coaches. So if Harvey was stretching the truth, it started a long time ago.

Obviously, Harvey wasn’t telling Ronnie to quit football altogether or to bounce around from job to job in California, Mexico, Texas, Maine, and Europe in the following decades. So it may well be true that Ronnie was the one making the dramatic moves all along and that Harvey just took the heat and enjoyed the limelight. Based on the affection Jim Hanifan expressed for Ronnie, I can’t see Ronnie as the prima donna type, yet he does come across in Harvey’s accounts, at least, as extremely critical of his coaches, and with reason.

An interesting fact reported in the article was that, when the American Football League was being formed in 1960, Ronnie, then twenty-five, was offered a contract to be the first quarterback for the San Diego Chargers at any salary he wanted to name, but he told them he was through with football. Charger coach Sid Gillman, who tells of spending six weeks trying to track Ronnie down to make him an offer, finally finding him in a “dump at the beach,” is quoted as saying Ronnie was the John Elway of his day, unbelievably talented at running and passing.

Despite the disdain he expressed for football (“for animals”) when he quit playing the game for good back in 1959, Ronnie seems to have maintained an interest in it, especially for the strategic aspects of the game. The article says he was willing to call Bill Walsh the outstanding coach of the time. Ronnie’s own coaching of the Faith Baptist team is praised by the pastor.

Dr. Roland Rasmussen of Canoga Park’s Faith Baptist Church and Schools has been his most faithful employer, bringing him in three times—in ’72, ’77 and again this summer—to coach his eight-man football teams.

Knox never stays long—he learned a different way in high school—but as a football man, he has made a strong impression on Rasmussen, a pastor who discusses football with the efficiency of an expert.

“We got acquainted through his mother when she was a member (of Faith Baptist) in 1970,” Rasmussen said. “Ronnie relates beautifully to athletes—he gets the most out of each one—and he has a brilliant football mind. I think he could be an offensive coordinator anywhere.”

So the mysterious “lost years” of Ronnie Knox’s life (the major part of his life, in fact) have been filled in somewhat, if vaguely, in my mind. Inevitably, the Golden Boy mystique has been largely effaced by all those thoroughly unglamourous years of what seems to have approximated aimless bumming around writing incoherent poems (based on my reading of the one—the only published one?—that concluded the article).

Yet I can still remember when, as a kid in Texas, I first heard of Ronnie, when he was maybe the best football player in the country, and both our lives since then were all potential and unknown. What does that young Golden Boy have to do with the rather pathetic fifty-seven-year-old drifter that died in San Francisco? Well, what does that Texas kid that looked up to Ronnie as a hero have to do with the white-bearded fellow at the computer keyboard writing these words?

Although it seems a bit ridiculous to me now, there was a time in my life when I thought I might become a writer (as in novels, not a blog) also. I just never wrote anything. I did go through a phase of occasionally writing “poems” (mainly on napkins in bars, as I recall), though I never quite deluded myself into thinking I was a poet. Poems had the advantage of being short. Ronnie just kept on living his dream. Was he crazier than I or a poorer judge of his own talent than I was of mine, or was he just more serious, determined, and steadfast?

My life has also had a few periods of uncertain direction (see for example my posts Don’t Gamble, Hire a Physicist and The Perfect Italian Woman), but always with a PhD in physics to help out on the employment front and then to make “regular life” too comfortable and, at times, too interesting to forgo, without even mentioning the rewards and demands of family life, which Ronnie missed out on. And there were those periods where political activity took precedence in my life, which doesn’t seem ever to have been the case for Ronnie. Still, I can see more similarities in our lives than I would have guessed. I wish I could have run into the guy at some point. Imagine what it would have been like for me to have realized that the athletic fellow scribbling in the bar in Austin or the cafe in Berkeley was the real one-and-only Ronnie Knox!

Now I know with certainty that Ronnie died sixteen years ago. How should we think of him: eccentric or mentally ill? If he was crazy it was the sort of craziness that afflicts saints or crackpots who cause no direct harm to others. Was this obsession with literature a curse? He didn’t view it that way. He was in it for the long haul, and there is something admirable about Ronnie’s continuing to write poems all those years without encouragement, while still viewing it as his true calling. Literature was something he could stay connected to when his life was otherwise without mooring. He compared himself to a “noble savage,” and I will keep that interpretation in my mind as I recall the words of Jim Hanifan: “I thought the world of him, and it hurts to see him gone.”

Some Thank Yous and More on Ronnie Knox

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I started this blog February 27, 2008. I’ve actually had more people drop by or stumble in than I expected, and I’d like to say thank you to a few folks, as well as adding a little more information on Ronnie Knox, the Proust-reading football player I talked about in the previous post for April 1.

The first email I got (via the link near the top right) was from Jamie, who had come across The Perfect Italian Woman after it had triggered a Google alert she’d set up for any web pages relevant to a book she was writing on French women. She enjoyed the piece and was generous in her compliments. Thank you, Jamie, for the encouragement.

That was just one example of the funny ways people can end up here. The story of my unusual free-lance physics job Why Gamble? Hire a Physicist lured people that had made Google searches on “Lawrence Berkeley Lab salary negotiation,” “physicists for hire,” and “postdoc scientist.” I don’t know Valtrex how long they stuck around since I suspect they had something more practical in mind, but it’s interesting to see the unexpected directions people are coming from.

The biggest spikes in visitors to the blog occurred after I posted the long accounts of my troubles installing Windows Vista on my MacBook Pro using Apple’s Boot Camp. Most of the traffic was due to the MacSurfer’s Headline News site’s having linked to the posts. It’s nice to be able to measure traffic in the hundreds instead of in single or double digits. I still get people coming by every day to check those computer-related posts out, which is not too surprising since I dealt with a number of issues that can come up when you’re installing Vista on a Mac.

I am grateful to two Proust-related bloggers that have made less ephemeral links to the Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I post along with appreciative comments. These are Antonia of The Laws of Night and Honey and Judy of Reading Proust in Foxborough. I’ve also had an enjoyable email exchange with John of the blog Thinking It Through.

Now to more on Ronnie Knox. I found some Google excerpts from a book published in 2003 called Beyond the Xs and Os: My Thirty Years in the NFL, an as-told-to book by the pro football coach, Jim Hanifan, who had been a teammate of Ronnie’s at UC Berkeley. Jim was a junior when Ronnie was a freshman. About Ronnie’s ability he has this to say:

Ronnie was a superbly talented football player. If his old man had not fouled him up, everyone in the country, even today, would know who Ronnie Knox was. That’s how good a player he was and could have been.

Hanifan fills in some painful details of the way Ronnie’s stepfather caused problems Cytotec with every coach Ronnie had. I’ll just move on to later in the narrative, which finds Ronnie starring at football in Toronto and, according to Hanifan, also starring on a weekly television show. He provides a new slant on Ronnie’s decision to quit football.

Without any warning Ronnie just walked off the field one day and quit football. He had gotten serious with a young lady, and the two of them took off and went to Mexico.

Then, after telling of his regret at having years later missed a phone call from Ronnie, who never called back, Hanifan continues.

I heard he ended up living in Los Angeles and was homeless when he died a few years ago. I thought the world of him, and it hurts to see him gone.

I’d like to think that Hanifan might have just heard a false rumor of Ronnie’s death, but this sounds pretty definitive. I’m glad to hear how highly Hanifan thought of Ronnie, but it somehow makes me all the sadder. I’d still like to see an obituary or something just to be sure he’s really dead and possibly to fill in a little more of his last forty years. A strangely tragic figure, that Ronnie Knox.

Ronnie Knox, Marcel Proust, and I

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Marcel Proust was not a household name in the household I grew up in; I don’t know about yours. Can you remember the first time you ever heard Marcel Proust’s name? Unless the preceding sentence was it, probably not I’d guess. I can remember perfectly, and with the help of the amazing power of the worldwide web and Google, I can put an approximate date on it. This was actually an important event in my life. But first a little ambien zolpidem online background.

Back in the 1950s there was a young football player in California, an outstanding passer who could also run and punt, named Ronnie Knox. Ronnie was California high school athlete-of-the-year for 1952-53, and had become one of the most sought-after players by college recruiters in the whole country. Ronnie was also good-looking, and was nicknamed “Golden Boy.” His overbearing stepfather, Harvey Knox, had moved him from high school to high school searching for the right coach to best showcase Ronnie’s talents. Then Harvey, acting in effect as Ronnie’s agent, had basically sold his services to the highest bidder, the University of California at Berkeley. The problem turned out to be that Cal already had one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and he had another year of eligibility.

Unwilling to see his son playing second string to anybody, even for a year, Harvey Knox pulled Ronnie out of Cal and took him south to UCLA, even though it meant losing a year of college playing eligibility. Harvey also got Cal in trouble with the NCAA by revealing some of the incentives that had been promised Ronnie in violation of the rules. It was at this time that I first heard about Ronnie because the story made it into national magazines.

California glowed with Hollywood glamour compared to my home state of Texas, and I took an interest in this West Coast story. I was twelve at the time and very open to finding new sports heroes. Mickey Mantle was my number one hero, and he would never be equaled by anyone else in my eyes, but I didn’t have a college football hero, so I think I mentally filed Ronnie away as a candidate for that position. In any case, Ronnie’s name stuck in my memory; but, as he had a year without playing, and I was in Texas and not going to get out-of-state football news unless it made it into a national magazine, I pretty much forgot about him, although his name would pop up every now and then. Ronnie took over the starting tailback job in the first game of the 1955 season for the UCLA team, which completed the season ranked fourth in the country. He played well in his team’s last-seconds loss in the Rose Bowl on January 2, 1956, which I may have seen on television, though I don’t remember it.

In an unusual move for the time, Ronnie decided to turn pro without playing his senior year at UCLA. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and played the 1956 season with them. He was drafted in the third round for the next year by the Chicago Bears, but only appeared in one game for them, whether due to an injury, or just being in a backup role, I don’t know. In any case, he went back to Canada to play for the Toronto Argonauts the following season. It was after that return to Canada that I became aware of Marcel Proust through the unlikely medium of a pro football quarterback’s words.

In the online archives of Sports Illustrated, one finds that the November 3, 1958 issue had as the second entry in its They Said It feature the following:

Quarterback Ronnie Knox of the Toronto Argonauts, an I-like-football-but man: “If I had to make the choice between a month of playing football and a month of reading Marcel Proust, I’d take Proust.”

I’m almost sure I saw the quote in some other magazine as well, with a phrase that described Proust in some inadequate way (but definitely mentioning he was French and probably that he had written a long work called Remembrance of Things Past) for those sports fans like me, who didn’t have a clue who Proust was.

To me, it was an altogether extraordinary statement. First of all, how could a gifted football player rather do anything more than play football? As a non-athletic teenaged sports fan who could only dream of being that skilled and successful at a sport, I tried to imagine what an exquisite pleasure the reading of this unknown-to-me Marcel Proust must be, at the same time thinking what a remarkable person Ronnie Knox must be to have the sensibility to appreciate this rare talent to such a degree. Now sixteen, alienated from fifties Texas culture and society, a reader myself, and vaguely attracted by the beatniks, I found Ronnie Knox, already a somewhat legendary figure, and Marcel Proust, this new intriguing writer, each causing the other to seem more exceptional in my mind.

Though I have no reason to doubt him—and it’s really just the difficulty I have in imagining any other pro quarterbacks I can think of as being that devoted to Proust that makes me say this—I don’t know for a fact that Ronnie actually ever read Proust. It could have just been an impressive name he’d picked up somewhere in college, but that thought never arose in my mind at the time, even to be rejected. All I had to go on were the words on a page. He’d rather read Proust than play football! Someday I too would read Proust, I thought, and then I will become one of the initiates and understand. I had no idea what Proust had written about, which was probably just as well. I very likely pronounced Proust as Prowst in my mind.

From that day on the mystique of the name Proust never faded for me, but I didn’t actually read any Proust until I was a junior at the University of Texas in a European Novel course. The sheer length of Proust’s one work of lasting importance was intimidating, and I thought I should read it straight through. I’d heard a professor recommend it as a summer project. When Ronnie talked about a month of reading Proust he wasn’t talking about rereading the same pages over and over. I may also have wondered if I would pass the Ronnie Knox test of Proust appreciation.

My English professor took an unusual approach. Proust’s long work had been published in separate volumes over time, so there was some slight justification for viewing it as a collection of several novels instead of one long one. The professor had us start toward the end with the sixth book in the series, called ridiculously in the translation we were reading The Sweet Cheat Gone (French title: Albertine Disparue). His reasoning was that the first volume (Swann’s Way), was not typical of the rest of the book, (presumably because the narrator was largely recalling scenes from his early years and because a good chunk of the volume—the Swann in Love section—was told in the third person, unlike the rest of the work) so that to really get to know what Proust was about we should read a later volume.

In practice this decision meant that we were thrown into the middle of a strange situation with numerous unknown characters whose personalities, sexual tastes, and foibles had been revealed and developed over the course of the earlier volumes; not to mention the narrator’s frequent references to earlier events, thoughts, and experiences from those volumes. I can’t remember exactly what I thought of the experience, and about all I can recall from class discussions of the book was the professor’s point that the narrator’s female love interests (e.g., Gilberte and Albertine) had all been given names which were the feminine forms of masculine ones, since Proust’s actual experience was with men. I emerged from this first sampling of Proust as committed to reading the whole work as ever, and with a better idea about what that meant.

It was not, however, until some eight or nine years later that I recommenced reading Proust. It was in Berkeley at a turning point in my life, marriage ending, when I felt the need to renew my acquaintance with great literature, which I sensed I had nearly lost touch with, having xanax spent so much time on physics graduate studies and research and on political meetings and demonstrations. This Proust was still in English translation. I can’t remember if I skipped the previously read volume or reread it, but I did finish all of Remembrance of Things Past, which is what the translator Scott Moncrieff chose to call Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. I not only enjoyed the reading but had my approach to the world changed by it. I may want to talk about Proust more some other time, but that’s not my purpose now.

My aim had always been to read Proust eventually in the original French, and I had started learning French during my last year at the University of Texas, but hadn’t advanced very far until I started studying it in earnest about the same time that I took up Proust in translation again. A few years later, back in Austin, I felt ready to attempt A la recherche du temps perdu in Proust’s own language. Of course it was slow at first, but in time I found that I could read pages-long sentences without getting lost, which is a testament to Proust’s writing, of course, and also to its ability to train the reader’s mind to start thinking like Proust (or to have that wonderful illusion). After I don’t know how many months, I finished the full journey en français. A couple of years later I bought a beautiful three-volume French Pleiade edition as a treasure to keep and as a promise to myself to read Proust again someday.

One day not long ago, well over twenty years after that book purchase, and with no particular thought at all, I picked up the first volume of the Pleiade edition, started reading “Longtemps je me suis coucher de bonne heure,” and was swept into Proust’s river again. I’m a little over halfway through the second volume now, and, if anything, enjoying it more than during the earlier readings. But that is impossible to judge with the greatest writers, the unique power of their art being impossible to remember fully when it’s not being actually experienced. This is something Proust himself notes, as I recall.

Only in the course of writing this have I come to realize how obviously, thoroughly, and appropriately “Proustian” this whole experience of mine with the name Marcel Proust was. For the narrator in Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu recounts numerous examples of words and names that took on enormous importance and aesthetic meaning for him just from his having heard or read them in some prestigious or romantic context—La duchesse de Guermantes and Balbec, for example—names that he had endowed in his mind with incomparable and exquisite qualities before having made a real acquaintance with the persons or places they denoted.

Just to finish with Ronnie Knox—he decided to quit football for good during his second season of playing for Toronto. The Time magazine online archive for September 26, 1959 records the following.

Badgered by a bad back, and no longer able to throw the long ball, cleft-chinned, curly-haired Quarterback Ronnie (“Golden Boy”) Knox, 24, quit the Toronto Argonauts in Canada’s rugged Big Four, thereby put an end to one of football’s most unfulfilled and peripatetic careers (three high schools, two colleges, four pro teams), which had largely been botched by the boisterous stage-mothering of stepfather Harvey Knox. “Football is a game for animals,” said Ronnie. “I like to think I’m above that.” Dreaming of higher things, Ronnie allowed he might toss off a novel or some poetry, already had some lines at hand that lurched with the proper beatnik beat:

Beauty is a thing of Ragmud But the maid left late. So don’t look under the apple tree Let’s rebel, man.

Who knows what kind of personal conflicts and disappointments may have lain behind that severe rejection of his profession? Or maybe the physical cost was just too great. I vaguely remember hearing that he tried acting for a while, which some web site listings confirm, but I never saw him in anything that I can remember. All I could find on the web were appearances in a handful of episodes of weekly tv dramas (e.g. an episode of Perry Mason), all from the 1958-1963 period. An astrology web site had his (to them) essential data plus a tiny picture of him taken some time after his playing days, in which he did not look happy. I’m not surprised he didn’t make it as a poet, but I don’t know what became of him. There’s also a movie/tv technician of the same name that shows up in online searches. Could it be the same person? If anyone knows, drop me an email.

So would I have read Proust at all without Ronnie Knox? Well, I read James Joyce (haven’t gotten all the way through Finnegan’s Wake, I confess), to mention someone comparable in some ways—writer of genius from roughly the same time period, but not exactly popular—so I can conjecture that I probably would have, but I can’t be sure. Perhaps literature, despite my having enjoyed reading as far back as I can remember, would not have secured such an important place in my mind without that adolescent connection between Proust and an unconventional star athlete.

Ronnie, old man, a lot of years have passed, and I hope the time has been good to you and that you have had a chance to read Proust as much as you wanted to. If you should somehow stumble across this, please know that I am grateful to you.