Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the 14th Anniversary of Charles Henri Ford’s Passing

On the 14th Anniversary of Charles Henri Ford’s Passing

Charles Henri Ford. Photo by Matthew R Lewis

Fourteen years ago, on September 27th, 2002, Charles Henri Ford passed away here in New York. He was 94 years old when he died, but his spirit was youthful and busy right up until that day. On this same date in 1934, Charles wrote a letter to his father, which he mailed from France. 

“To Daddy,” he wrote. “Arrived in Paris last night after a few days in Toulon and a couple of nights in Marseilles. Visited Aix-en-Provence on the way up, like walking in the 18th century. Spain has a brutality in the landscape that one misses in France.” 

He mentions a manuscript for a novel, for which he hoped to find a publisher. His agent of the day had told him the book was without commercial value, but that was never something that bothered Charles or stopped him, and he had plenty of successes over his long life that made him happy, if not rich. The book he wrote with Parker Tyler, The Young and Evil, published around the time of this letter, was considered without commercial value too, and it was also considered shocking. I think that probably made Charles happy, the fact that it was shocking. 

Charles lived for art of every kind, and he lived to experience life to the fullest, which he did. And he was lucky in that the world when he was young was still full of undiscovered places compared to the world as it is today. Charles was blessed with good timing in his life.

“I can’t describe in a letter all the wonderful things we saw in Spain,” he wrote to his father in that letter dated September 27th, 1934, about his travels with Pavel Tchelitchew.  “We also visited Granada, which was the most marvelous of all.”

Could Charles have ever imagined that this same day on the calendar, sixty-eight years in the future, would be his last? I don’t think he thought about it at all, but if he had known it, I think he might have wanted to have it made into a poem or a play or another manuscript “without commercial value.”  

Charles lived a long life full of marvelous achievements and experiences, and in case he’s watching, I want him to know that he’s not forgotten, and his influence lives on more than ever. 

Charles Henri Ford
February 10, 1908 – September 27, 2002

-Indra Tamang

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