An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook — Words of Wisdom from Thirty Years of Literary Excellence 1973 – 2003
Ray Bradbury kicked off the conference with one of his more memorable lectures, at one point recalling how in a visit to his hometown of Waukegan five years past he went in to a barber shop and was accosted by the 70 year-old barber there.
“By god I’ve been waiting 40 years for you to come through that door,” the barber said. “When I was 18 years old I was a boarder in your mother’s house!”
Ray said he didn’t remember the man — “I was only three or four years old at the time after all.”
The barber said one of his favorite memories of that time was of a three-year old Ray and his brother, excited about helping their grandfather, running into the house to talk about the bags of dandelions they’d collected for the wine press their grandfather kept in the basement.
Twenty-some years later the budding writer Ray Bradbury wrote a novel entitled Dandelion Wine, wondering at the time where the idea for the story came from until he was a famous and accomplished writer in his forties visiting his home town and meeting the 70 year-old barber who reminded him of a summer afternoon when he collected gunny sacks filled with dandelions.
Ray's speeches had a similarity and an ongoing theme that he repeated every year with the same infectious, inspiring, passion. In the process of transcribing cassettes to MP3 files, we uncovered this little gem of a segment from 2002 that was classic Ray Bradbury wisdom.