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Intersections: Ray Bradbury's Glendale ties will remain long after his death

June 11, 2012|By Liana Aghajanian
(Times Community…)

For 10 years, Ray Bradbury signed books, celebrated his birthdays and drew large crowds to the Mystery and Imagination Bookshop owned by his friends Christine and Malcolm Bell in downtown Glendale.

It is here that Bradbury — best known for his science fiction novel, “Fahrenheit 451” — connected with fans one-on-one, where three dimensional-themed treats, overseen by Porto's Bakery across the street, were brought in to celebrate his birthday. From a whale-shaped treat to honor Bradbury's contribution to the screenplay of the 1956 film adaptation of “Moby Dick” to another in the form of a burning book — complete with flames and a list of all his lifetime literary accomplishments — they reflected Bradbury's farfetched imagination and the overwhelming love his fans had for him.

On this bustling stretch of Brand Boulevard, the phone calls and emails haven't stopped at the shop since the beloved author passed away at 91 last week. Some have sent mementos, such as a pink dinosaur — a Bradbury signature “beast” — that sits at the front desk. A butterfly hangs around its neck, an homage to the “butterfly effect” theory in Bradbury's 1952 time travel story “A Sound of Thunder.”

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A slew of bouquets flank the plush toy. “You all enriched his life” reads a card darting from the flowers.

Christine Bell first met Bradbury in 1976 during one of his motivational speeches, forming a fast friendship that would last for decades.

After the bookstore she opened with her husband, Malcolm, moved to its current, larger location in 2000, Bradbury offered to help out. And so the signings, meet-and-greets and celebrated birthday parties began.

The large crowds of hundreds of people lining the block was one way you could tell he was in town.

For the Bells, they weren't just book signings, but treasured memories they now hold dear.

“Ray had an incredible imagination, to be in his presence, I was always in awe,” Malcolm said.

For Bradbury, it was a place to personally get to know those on whose lives he had such a big impact.

“He came here because he enjoyed himself, because we wanted to celebrate him,” Christine said.

And celebrate they did.

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