Let’s turn back the clock for a moment.
The year was 1978. I was 12 years old. It was the year of Star Wars and Close Encounters, the animated Lord of the Rings and Carradine’s Circle of Iron, and Doctor Strange made his tv debut. Jim Shooter took over Marvel and Claremont, Byrne, and Austin became the Holy Triumvirate. It was the year I discovered Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. It was also, for me and my friends, the year of Dungeons & Dragons.
I don’t remember how it first entered my radar, but I begged for and got the D&D Basic Set from my parents for Christmas that year. You know the one — cheap polyhedrals you had to fill in with crayon, the In Search of the Unknown module, and the Blue Basic Rulebook.
I drafted my brother and our neighborhood friends to play, even got my dad to play a couple of times.
Returning from Christmas Break, I discovered I was far from alone.
Despite being a consolidated school drawing from several small rural communities, Oak Hill Jr and Sr High only boasted about nine-hundred students at best.
Dungeons & Dragons was contagious. Mostly it was the band and theatre kids, though a few of us were athletes, but there was no denying its sweeping popularity. Pocket groups sprang up in Converse, Sweetser, Swayzee, and Sims. Separated by miles of country roads before most of us could drive, school was a vital linchpin.
A sizable group of us spent our lunchtime poring over the rulebooks and sometimes playing fast and furious encounters, our study halls and library periods found us drawing dungeons on graph paper, and after school, weekends, and holidays gave way to frenzied games sessions that lasted for a dozen hours. Often more.
All told, there must have been more than thirty kids that gravitated to the game, but there was a magical place where we were all drawn to, that cemented our fellowship, that truly helped give birth to the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club…
That place was called Redbeard’s Books.
to be continued