To say Larry Himmel is or was a personal friend of mine during my time leading the newsroom at a daily paper east of San Diego would be stretching the truth. We were journalism colleagues back then and shared a few assignments, broadcasts and lunches together. Larry was beginning to make a name for himself as a local television commentator and reporter and we co-wrote a few newspaper columns together. He did one of his own for the Daily Californian for a couple of months and, as good people there always did, eventually tired of the publishers’ shenanigans and took his talent elsewhere.
Still, had I walked up to his front door yesterday he would have welcomed me in — I’m sure — because that’s the kind of heart he has. And anyone who has lived in San Diego and had the pleasure of watching him on television for the last 15 years or so knows Larry would do the same for them.
Earlier today, Larry’s home of 25 years burned in the California fires. Of all the reporting he’s ever done, today’s assignment was surely one of the toughest and most courageous he’s completed. His journalistic instincts took him to his own home only minutes after it had become a complete loss.
I wasn’t going to write tonight, until I saw this report on FOX News and Bill O’Reilly interviewing Larry at about 8 p.m. EST. His home had been gone since the morning. He had secured his family and pets elsewhere before he left home this morning and then had gone to work.
Ironic, that a man with talents the whole country could appreciate goes national in a story about how he covered his own home burning on the news. (click the You Tube link above)
Then I had to write, as writers often must. But I have nothing profound to say. My mother-in-law and her sister had to catch a plane and leave their vacation with my sister-in-law who still lives in San Diego and has almost all of her adult life. I felt removed from that today because I knew they were safe. But I’ve been thinking of others all day:
- My good friend Howard Owens and his wife Billie who have a large community of family and friends back there after only recently moving to the eastern part of the country.
- Other friends of mine who I haven’t caught up with in far too long.
- And all of the 360,000 or so who have been evacuated and are unsure of their situations.
I am certain the news will report many stories of great heroism and human support for each other. Despite all the stereotypes about Californians, when it comes to caring for each other in crisis they know no rivals.
So all there is left to do is go to bed now and pray for these people and that the winds will change.