Sunday, February 16, 2014

Remembering Robin

Robin Hathaway died a year ago today. What I’ve learned in the past year is that as a friend she is irreplaceable. When I try to write about her now I find that my words are at worst platitudinous and at best inadequate.

The blog post below is, for selfish reasons, one of my favorites. I am the friend that shared this “perfect day” with Robin. The day was fabulous and the post illustrates some of what everyone found so delightful about Robin.

Stephanie Patterson

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2012

A Perfect Day!

Last Friday I had what I consider a perfect day. In order to pull this off, you have to have balmy weather and a good friend who shares your love of books. Then you’re all set.

We started off at eleven a.m. after a leisurely breakfast over which we discussed the books we’d read since we’d last seen each other. As usual, our tastes agreed. We both love mysteries, from cozies to noir, as well as a vast variety of fiction and non-fiction – especially prime sources such as letters and diaries of our favorite authors. Some books we touched on were: The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett, Lives of the Novelists, by John Sutherland, Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis.

Next, we headed out to Bookhaven, on Fairmount Ave., my idea of the perfect bookstore. When you open the door you’re assailed by the delicious scent of old books, a gray, striped cat is curled up on the counter, and the bookseller really knows her stock, from beginning to end. I asked for The Orations of Cicero, (for my husband), which she instantly produced, with the remark, “His letters are much livelier.” My friend and I moved on to the shelves that interested us. I came away with Short Stories by Wilkie Collins, Wartime Writings by Saint-Exupery, a Lescroart, The Second Chair, (and, of course, the Cicero).

For some reason, book browsing stimulates the appetite, so we found our way to a restaurant with outdoor tables. It was about 70 degrees with a light breeze. There, we had soup, salads, and a glass of white wine that we consumed amid more talk about books. From there we returned home to freshen up for the evening event – a celebration of David Goodis, local noir author extraordinaire. The program was held at the Free Library of Philadelphia. It began with a showing of “The Burglar,” starring Dan Duryea and Jayne Mansfield. This 1950 film was made from a Goodis novel by the same name. After the film, an editor from Library of America spoke about Goodis and read some passages from his novels. Lou Boxer, a director of Philadelphia’s NoirCon, did a power point presentation on Goodis’s life in Philadelphia and his career.

As we emerged from the Library to look for a cab, we realized that finding one at that hour and location was about as likely as a snow storm in July. As we prepared to spend the night curled up on the Library steps, we spied two friends — Deen Kogan and Greg Gillespie. Seeing our plight, they saved the day (rather — the night) by offering us a ride.

At home again, we broke out a chilled bottle of Chardonnay and — you guessed it — talked about books.

Don’t you agree this was a perfect day?

Robin Hathaway


  1. I've read this post before. I loved it then and I certainly love it today. I've had some wonderful times with Robin and I miss her, too. She was on Facebook with me and the other day there was a little reminder that it was her 'birthday' and I felt sad all over again.

  2. Friends of Robin can be thankful forever that she passed from this stage of life in the way that Stephanie gives us today... that her friends did not watch the almost unbearable changes that take place in the lives of many friends and loved ones who become, as it were, different people, as they weather the passage of time... tjs

  3. This was very much a typical perfect day with Robin for me, too. I miss those days. Been thinking about her a lot lately. Love you, Steph.

  4. As today ends and I see these comments I urge all of us to cherish the friends we have now.... we never know when that last day will come... tjs

  5. Robin was such a gracious person. I wish I had got to known her better. Lately, I have decided to make time to see my friends more often. And to make new friends.