The Seven Chairs

by Roy H. Williams on April 4, 2016

Roy H. Williams · Invisible Heros · April 04, 2016

Pendulum in Action, invisible heroes, Harris BurdickThe fifth one ended up in France.

Peter Wenders chooses stories and illustrations for children’s books.

It’s 1954, and today is a day like any other; Wenders sits innocently in his office, believing that people are who they claim to be.

And he assumes they’ll do what they say they’ll do.

But today a man with round glasses and a large nose walks into his office wearing an overcoat and a fedora. The man offers his hand, “Hello, my name is Harris Burdick.”

Wenders rises to his feet and shakes the hand. “Peter Wenders.”

“I’ve written 14 stories and drawn multiple illustrations for each. Would you be willing to take a look?”

“That depends,” says Wenders, “on what your stories are about.”

Wordlessly, Burdick hands Wenders an illustration titled The Seven Chairs. The caption beneath it reads, “The fifth one ended up in France.” Wenders looks at Burdick with a smiling look of surprise.

Burdick hands him another image. Then another and another. One for each story. Fourteen in all.

“Yes! Yes! I’d be delighted to read your stories. Can you bring them in tomorrow?”

Burdick says he’ll be back, then reaches out to retrieve his 14 illustrations.

Pulling back a little, Wenders says, “Leave these with me, won’t you? I’d like to show them to my colleagues.” And with a quick smile, a nod, and a tip of his hat, Burdick was gone.

And was never seen again.

Wenders searched for Burdick more than 20 years, but no trace was found. If not for those 14 images, Wenders might have become convinced it was all just a false memory.

But what talent Burdick had!

In 1982, Peter Wenders, now 73 years old, met another gifted children’s author. “Sit down, Chris. I want to show you something.”

Chris Van Allsbury dropped into an old leather chair in Wenders’ living room. A minute later Wenders came in with a dusty cardboard box. “What do you think of these?”

Wenders saw the same smiling look of surprise on the face of Chis Van Allsbury that Harris Burdick had seen on Wenders’ face 28 years earlier.

Startled by the images and spellbound by the story of Wenders’ fruitless search for Burdick, Chris Van Allsbury said, “Mr. Wenders, we have to publish these. The images, the titles, the captions! This man deserves to be remembered.”

And that’s the story of a thin book titled, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Every home should have a copy.

Like Peter Wenders, I, too, have met men and women whose stories deserve to be remembered. And like Chris Van Allsbury, I’ve said, “We have to publish these.”

These special moments have resulted in Accidental Magic, People Stories, and now Dreams.

Wizard Academy, high on a plateau at the southern edge of Austin, Texas, is a gathering place for the talented, the brilliant, the unusual and the different.

If Harris Burdick is alive, he’ll find his way here.

I know he will.


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