When Barry Lynn was a boy, he racked tobacco in North Carolina. The fieldwork made him hardy, and gave him a man’s hands, but he was never like the other boys, and childhood was not easy for a boy with no appetite for mud or baseball. He speaks fondly of an aunt, who even then, even in Carolina before the First World War, understood the boy was different. She’d sneak him bits of lace and ribbon: “pretties,” he called them. Like a scattering of bright feathers left by a flown bird, the pretties implied other worlds.
I met Barry Lynn sometime in the 1990s, while in the company of John Shimon and Julie Lindemann. I just tried to locate the first essay I ever wrote about Barry and his partner Michael, but it has disappeared into the electronic ether (I have a backup paper version in a box somewhere down in the pole barn). Most recently, I wrote this, about visiting Barry as he neared his centenary.
It pleases me to report that this video essay (by Steve Betchkal) [LINK NO LONGER AVAILABLE] does a fine job of capturing the spirit, beauty, strength, and yep, even the incorrigibility I have come to so admire in Barry Lynn (who served in this country’s military overseas during World War II, by the by).
Want to be the first to know when Mike has a new book, or is coming to your area? Please sign up for the email list.