If you’ve been keeping up with the comment sections, you’ve probably learned from faustina that my esteemed blogging colleague and very good friend Sam Johnson has shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 42. (The details surrounding his demise are sketchy at best; his brother Anthony discovered Sam in his apartment today and the family will apparently have an obit up at The Savannah-Morning Snooze within the next day or so. I will look for it online and keep you posted.)
Sam and I first became acquainted when he stumbled onto my blog as a result of a search of Savannah-based blogs, and it didn’t take long for the two of us to discover that we had many things in common: old movies, classic TV, old-time radio, etc. (He also made me a charter member of the League of Savannah Bloggers…even though its membership resembled more of a platoon.) Sam was the type of guy that a friend of mine once described as “never met a stranger”—and as such, I made other friends through Sam that included Phil Schweier, Pandora Zowada, and the irrepressible HouseT.
He had a tendency to look at things from a slightly askew angle—many of the subjects he wrote about included bizarre recipes involving bacon and vigorous defenses of his beloved hometown of Savannah. I freely admit that sometimes I would needle him about his unabashed love for the city oft-described as “the pretty lady with the dirty face” by posting dissenting comments…and he would come right back at me with the fury of a woman scorned. (I never knew for certain if he knew I was just winding him up…for the record, Sam, it was all in fun.)
Since starting Thrilling Days of Yesteryear back in November 2003, I’ve been afforded a marvelous opportunity to correspond with a number of truly good people…but it’s a rare occasion that allows me to meet many of my friends in the blogosphere face-to-face—chiefly because I don’t drive. I’ve been fortunate to have spent some time with Mr. Debonair himself—Elisson—which in a small way doesn’t really count because…well, he’s on a first name basis with everybody. Sam was the only other individual that I met and gret—we broke bread together about three years ago at the Ruby Tuesday’s in the Savannah Mall.
More often than not, Sam would usually drop in at my former place of employment (the fabulous LaQuinta Inn on Abercorn) to tumultuous applause not heard since Happy Days or Laverne & Shirley was on the air. If I was able to get away from my duties (honestly, some of the customers were convinced we were running some sort of a hotel or something) we’d have a bit of a chinwag; most of the time, however, our conversations would be conducted by phone or online (sort of a Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud between his and my blogs).
The last time I spoke with him was two weeks ago; he had called me up to see what was shaking and I told him that other than suffering from a mild case of writer’s block everything was peachy. We discussed at length the nature of public domain TV shows (as always, I told him Bob “Master of His [Public] Domain” Huggins was the go-to guy on that), his future plans (he had just thrown up his hands in disgust and quit his radio job because it was no longer fun for him)…and what I teased was his unhealthy obsession about writing about his ex-wife—even though she did reach into his chest cavity and remove his still-beating heart in front of him like in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). We also chatted about getting together at a future date to work on a dream project of his: an online database devoted to Saturday morning television (we just never could seem to get our schedules to mesh on this one).
To the individual who never failed to amuse me with stuff like Talk Like a Goth Girl Day, Sam-a-Palooza and the merits of Jerry Lewis’ film career—R.I.P., paisan. You have no idea how much I’ll miss you.
Update: Sam’s obituary can be found online here, along with a guestbook for those who have something to say.