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Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 1999 /22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Too Late for Dinner -- WE MEANT TO GET TOGETHER with them for dinner, but we just couldn’t get our schedules in sync. This was back around early July. A series of phone calls back and forth over the course of two or three weeks produced nothing. We just couldn’t nail down an evening -- so eventually we stopped trying.

The last time the four of us had dinner together was last March. The plan was to meet Fred and Shelley Lucky at Le Petite Bistro -- the one over the hill in their neighborhood.

Since we weren’t used to being out on the town on Friday nights, we completely miscalculated the amount of time it would take us to snake our way through the traffic from the Valley to the Westside. We were running late. When at last we arrived at the restaurant we found Fred and Shelley seated in a large booth happily noshing bread. They waved us over -- beaming at us as we approached.

It was one of those deliciously comfortable evenings. The Luckys were relaxed and in good humor. The food is always good at Le Petite Bistro and that night was no exception. We all had a great time, lots of laughs. At the end of the evening we said our good-byes and promised to get together again soon. We talked about having dinner next time at the Bistro’s sister restaurant not far from our house on our side of the hill.

Time passed, then that silly telephone back and forthing during the summer when the Luckys and Crosbys just couldn’t get their agendas to mesh. Good intentions on both sides, but it wasn’t to be.

Yesterday we received a phone call that Fred Lucky had died.

Evidently it had happened quickly and unexpectedly. But in a way, death is always unexpected, isn’t it? I mean, is anyone ever fully prepared for the loss of a parent or a sibling or a spouse or a friend? For me, this time, it was a friend. A friend of twenty-eight years.

We had met as young storymen in the animation department at Disney Studio a couple of lifetimes ago. Fred had been brought in as a big shot to set the style for the next animated feature. I had just sold a story concept to the studio and was developing it as an animated featurette. We hit it off immediately. From day one we discovered that we had three major loves in common: golden age newspaper comic strips, eating, and drinking.

We’d spend hours eating, drinking, and talking about the great old comics and what it must have been like to have had a syndicated strip and live in New York during the Twenties or Thirties. At a time when being a cartoonist really meant something -- as prestigious and glamorous as any actor or sports star. His favorite strip was Skippy. Mine was Thimble Theater.

Though our lives moved in different directions through the years, we managed to stay in touch. A phone call here, a luncheon there. Every now and then a dinner.

So often it seems we are left with nagging regrets when we lose those who are dear to us. Words we should have said or things we should have done when we had the chance but didn’t. In my case, I’m sorry we didn’t try a little harder last July to make that dinner happen.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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10/05/99: A Message From Your Journalistic Human Interest Commentator
09/24/99: The Getting Away With It Decade
09/17/99: The Scoop of the Century
09/09/99: Important Millennium Advisory
09/03/99: Ask Mr. Politically Correct Man
08/26/99: Broadcasters, Please mind Your Manners
08/19/99: The Golden Age of Jerkdom
08/12/99: Dressing Down...and Out

©1999, Greg Crosby