Mar 24, 2007

Old Man Bill

I'm re-reading this story for the fourth ??? time and I'm in awe of Betty Smith's writing. I'm not exaggerating when I say, "This book is a gift." It was recommended to me by an old hermit man living in the Australian outback during my 12th year. I'd sit and visit with him often during my 3 month long stay...in his rickety, shingled, chocked full, one room tin shack...piled floor to ceiling with yellowed newspapers, knick knacks, and all sorts of odds and ends. We talked about many things I'm sure...but one thing I remember distinctly... is a conversation about this special, special book. That... and Old Man Bill's odd way of wearing a dozen knit skull caps in the early mornings. As the day went on...and the sun grew stronger in the sky...he'd remove them one by one...until he was comfortable with the last two or three...that and.....the kangaroos hopping in the yard...and the deep, dark, cold watering hole where we'd swim...and the name of the funny little town, Dungog...and......the fact that he and I remained pen pals until he passed away... all the way on the other side of the world...in the land down under.