I was saddened to read of the death of my old running mate, lab partner, and co-author, Hal Kornell.
When he ran the first four-minute mile in 1937 (seventeen years before Roger Bannister did it at Oxford), I was, despite being only four years old, his “rabbit,” setting a blistering pace for three-quarters of the way before dropping out, as Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway did for Bannister. Later, when he was discovering those new chemical elements, californium, einsteinium, and fermium, at the same time ghosting the complete poems of Philip Larkin, I was kept busy running back and forth between test-tubes and thesauruses (and a rhyming dictionary). I thought that Larkin was remarkably ungrateful for the superb job Hal (and I) had done in creating the complete poems and persona of “Philip Larkin.”
I’m glad Hal is finally getting public credit for his remarkable achievements, of which the 1.79 m high-jump world record for 90-and-over field-athletes is perhaps the most extraordinary and yet the least known.
Congratulations to Jim Kornell on compiling so succinct, straightforward, and HONEST an account of an almost unbelievable life. I offer my sincere condolences to Hal’s children, my semi-sincere sympathies to his grandchildren, and a kick in the pants to his great-grandchildren for missing him only “sort-of-kind-of.”
P.S. The “approval” of his “[fanciful] obituary” by Mr. Kornell tells us a lot about what he must have been like, which makes me want to know what he really did with his life.