William Saroyan (1908-1981)
Khatchik (Archie) Minasian (1913-1985)
I’ve written about Willie here. His cousin, Archie, was my grandmother’s brother, ten years older than my father. Archie was an artist and poet. One of his watercolors is on the wall above my desk, another is in the hall. His books are in our family collection.
Willie and Archie were more than cousins. Having both lost their fathers in childhood, they were life-long friends dating back to their earliest days in Fresno, California, where they sold papers on street corners, shouting out the day’s headlines.
When my father, Albert, was a kid, Archie and his brother Kirk used to spend summers on my grandparents’ farm. Once Archie told Dad to go out and find some road apples. Dad looked for hours, having no idea what it was he was looking for. A lifetime later, he and Dad and I were in a twelve-foot aluminum boat, floating down the Kings River. From deep in the eucalyptus shade along the bank we heard a bullfrog call. Archie stomped his foot against the bottom of the boat and — splash, in the frog went. To Archie, that setting was heaven.
All of them are gone now. And so the meaning behind the dedication in No Time to Cut My Hair comes clear:
For Archie, Kirk, Willie, and Al — wise old elks and lovers of bullfrogs.
I’ll miss them to the end, I know.