Me and Louis L’Amour, 1984. I only wish my friend had taken a better picture of the two of us.

I recently finished The Rider of Lost Creek by Louis L’Amour. I had read the book in high school and it was fun to read a western again. I so rarely read them nowadays. Reading the book made me remember when L’Amour was my favorite author. In high school, I dutifully read each book and was a big fan of The Sackett series. I even wrote my senior paper on L’Amour and how his life played out in the pages of his books.

I was also lucky enough to meet L’Amour once in 1984. It was at the Banquet of the Golden Plate in Minneapolis, MN. The banquet was a three-day annual event that brought together students who were the tops in different areas of study with a variety of writers, artists, businessmen, actors and politicians. I got to go because I was a state winner in the VFW’s Voice of Democracy competition that year (a great event that all high school students should participate in).

Anyway, in the weeks leading up to the event, they sent the student attendees a yearbook. It had all the pictures of the students, a page-length biography of each of the special guests and pictures of the previous year’s banquet and activities. As I paged through the books, I recognized a lot of the names of people I would get to meet and talk to: John Travolta, Ray Charles, Chuck Yeager, Brooks Robinson, Franco Harris, Ed Asner, Ted Turner and more.

Then I saw the picture from the previous year’s event and suddenly all my excitement to attend left me. Louis L’Amour had been a guest the previous year! I had missed him by a year. The one person I would have loved to meet had attended but not when I was going to.

So I flew into Minneapolis and met a lot of interesting students from all over the country and started celebrity watching. Then who should get into the elevator with me but Louis L’Amour. It seems that previous attendees were invited to attend future events and L’Amour had chosen to do so. I was so star struck that I couldn’t speak.

I caught up with him later and talked with him for a bit, got his autography and had my picture taken with him. It was the highlight of my trip. All of those other celebs couldn’t hold a candle to greatest western writer ever!