Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Here is the final George Anderson tale that I wish to relate on this evening. Now, most folks would not believe what I'm about to tell; what was told to me by George. But, old George was not given to telling tales. He was a rare Man that knew what secrets could not be told. He respected Truth and other folk's capacity to handle such… or not.

But there is a story that he did pass on, and he left me the evidence the prove the tale true.

Up on Bell Hill, he had that shack with two windward walls that had some clap board, and where you could feel the wind blow through the others. One morning, going to fetch water from the spring up the mountain, past the pile of the old fifty dollar tin stoves he burnt out… there was a young buck that had no sense to be afraid of a White Foot Scout.

With his bare hands he took that critter and slashed his throat with a buck knife. I am not a hunter and do not feel entirely right about what had happened, but it did happen. Yes, I did enjoy the venison chili seasoned with very special mushrooms procured from the band down the hill. It was the next night that we enjoyed George's triumph, the dogs slept under the shack as the wind howled and the snow banks piled up above the window sills. The new tin stove did glow cherry red. In the morning, bellies still full, we dug the pups out and unburied our cars. We drove off as George was finishing some business with the remains of that young buck.

Years later, George died in the arms of one of his compatriots from the war. I suppose that was fitting, tho I wish I had been with him, myself. But, a couple days after we made his funeral up in the North Country, his girlfriend called and said he had asked to pass something on to me. Now, I haven't done dope in over a decade, but I do still prize a single piece of pot paraphernalia. It is a pipe fashioned from the antler of a young buck taken by the bare hands of a Man and by chance in the midst of the woods, way up north.


And, More George A…


Another entry on our friend, George Anderson…

I remember him introducing himself to me when I first showed up at the big communal house, the Old Stone House, up near the border with Canada. He walked up to me. He says, "Hi, I'm the Hermit of Ellenburg, up by Bell Hill. You ain't from around here, are ya?"

He got that right. And, I'd never seen such a creature as George. Then again, where he had come from and traveled to was an altogether different planet than my "Leave it to Beaver" terrain. It was thus such a privilege to be the man's friend for the next decade and some.

Back in my real dangerous days, I'd sometimes wander into places that I had no place being. I'd walk into biker bars, completely unappreciative that George had my back. He was not a big guy, but I now realize that he did have the look in his eye of a man who knew how to spot danger and he knew how to kill if required. His fellows recognized this.

One time, I waltzed into a joint out in the hills of upstate New York. It was full of Hell's Angels. I was oblivious. My head was full of mind bending chemicals. The Angels were stone drunk and gacked to the nines on speed. When I made my entrance, the place fell silent, like in an old western movie. Every eye turned to me with menace. Then George came in behind me, and everything returned to the buzzy cadence of any Sunday afternoon where bad business goes on. In a moment, very scary people were buying me and George beers.

It was only the next morning that it occurred to me, that George had likely saved my hide, just by showing up.


A Little More on George Anderson


I have spoken of old George before. The guy, about two decades after splitting this planet, still stomps the Terra and impresses me and others that he touched more than we could have apprehended in our younger years.

I really appreciate the opening that you've given me to remember and write about the guy. It's also meaningful that this is was the kind of day when he moved on… chilly, challenging in a physical way. Things seem dreadful to folks that just have to navigate to work or the supermarket. Nonsense.

When George was in 'Nam, I came up for the draft. I was lucky. That year, Nixon probably did the only favor he might have delivered to me. I pulled #13 in the lottery, pretty well first in line, but he stopped the taking of draftees. I never had to go to Canada or Norway, or wherever. I did know that I was not going to go kill people I never met.

George had enlisted, however. He wanted to prove something to his dad. On George's first tour, his dad died. Then, George re-upped… his mom died. George came home to find that his only brother had taken what little the family had for his own. George understood that he had nothing, no family, nobody that knew him, nothing but the mud under his boots.

So, he ran wild with the River Rats up by the Canadian border, and tore up the neighborhood. Eventually, figuring that he was not fit for civilization, he built a shack sheltered from the wind only on the side of Bell Hill. Else wise, you could see the sunlight poke thru the timbers. Out back, there was a pile of old, burnt out tim stoves. He'd go thru about one a month to keep him and his pups warm… sort'a warm.

Still, he made a bed available to anybody that wandered his way, and if that was not sufficient to the dire circumstance, they could hid out under his own. The pups were kept safe.

I cannot say enough in kindness to recommend the memory of George Anderson. He was a Man.



I'm thinking of my old pal, George Anderson. He might have been the most beautiful man I have ever met, aside from my own dad. George came back from Vietnam, but died from that war twenty years later. His story is heroic in the very old, tragic sense, but also is an example of what a Human can do right with what is handed off by Destiny.

George was smarter, certainly kinder, than pretty much anybody you'll likely see on the street. He taught just by letting one watch him stride proud but without any righteousness. Nothing much scared him after he came back from that horrible war. He was a Man… a MAN. He made his living for a spell by killing people and getting shot at, standing next to a stranger that he relied upon to save his own hide, and seeing that fellow torn apart by bombs to die in pieces in his arms.

Yet, George came home to the country that put his butt in the grinder of war, he was looking for Love, and he had progressed to the point that he would not squash a spider on the wall. He would gently capture it, fold it up in a napkin, walk down three floors from his room, and release it onto the porch… perhaps to repeat the operation the next day with the very same critter.

He was a Buddhist without ever reading any of those old texts. He was a Christian without religion. He became a Shinto priest without ever knowing a damn thing about that ancient tradition. George was a Human. He was beautiful, and I miss him.