The Woman Who Broke Isaac Asimov’s Heart

(Originally Posted Monday, October 22, 2007)

Yesterday, I drove down to New Castle Delaware, to meet with my editor David Hartwell. and got to meet Lena Deemer, the woman who broke Isaac Asimov’s heart. She is the proprietor of a b&b there and on Sundays she plays piano at the Arsenal, a colonial restaurant a block and half away.

If you look at Asimov’s third autobiography, I. Asimov, you’ll find an entire chapter devoted to Ms Deemer. She worked in the Philadelphia Navy yard in WWII as a bench chemist. Robert Heinlein recruited her. And she had stories to tell about what a scamp and prankster Isaac was.

There are depths to Lena Deemer. She plays piano beautifully, she speaks Russian “well enough to be understood,” though no longer well enough to read technical papers, she’s a bit of a raconteur, and who knows what else there is to her? As she was walking away, I couldn’t help wondering how many of the other people we pass by every day have lives as interesting and varied as hers. Yet another of those unanswerable questions.

“Did you know Isaac?” she asked me.

“I met him a few times,” I replied. “But I’m afraid he made more of an impression on me than I did on him.”

So too, I suspect, here.

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