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Date:12/29/2014 2:58:27 AM
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Wild Bill, Part I
The latest photo I've added is "Bill's Shack." It was built by "Wild Bill” Beaudin on his hill west of Stiles. When Bill left for California for a couple of years, the shack was morved onto our land. Here it has stayed for the last 40 years. The shack's original wooden shakes, or shaved wooden shingles, still do not allow a drop of rain inside the cabin. The latch-string door still rests on its original wooden hinges and there is room for a pair of bunkbeds, a pantry, and a sink, not too mention a table and a couple of chairs. We have an old Sears box stove in the corner, where an aluminum reflector is attached to protect the vertical log walls. Even a small fire in that little stove would cause you to prop open the door on all but the coldest days.

Bill Beaudin was a friend of the family. In most urban families, that would mean little or nothing, but in a countryman's family, it is an actual adoption into that family. Bill Beaudin was family. His death left a hole in our lives and his life bequeathed a wealth of stories that will be told as long as anyone of us who knew him is still alive.

Bill stood 6 foot 4 and weighed about 250 pounds. He was in his late forties when we knew him. He had a gray beard and a weather-beatened face. The best way to describe him is that he looked just like Ian McKellen's Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

Bill was a sort of Renaissance Man. The first such that I had encountered in my young life. He read everything he could get his hands on and was a talented painter and sketchist. He could expound on Astronomy, Physics and all of the other Natural Sciences and was very good at chess. He also had spent eight years in the Marine Corps and was a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. He was first and foremost an outdoorsmans. Of the myriad of jobs he'd done, his favorite was having been a canoe guide in Canada.
When we knew him, Bill did odd jobs as a carpenter and ran the town dump. My Pa also got him a job running the local Legion Hall, opening it for business on weekends while bunking there throughout the winter. My happiest memories of my freshman year in high school was going to the Legion with Pa on a Thursday or Friday night and shooting pool with Bill. You learned early on to back away from the table when Bill tried a "Beaudini Shot." The cue ball was like as not to fly off the table and carom off a wall when Bill put his strength into a bank shot. While able to attend to detailed artistry on a small scale for a limited amount of time, Bill was essentially a "grand artist" and was given to dramatic displays of imagination and strength. He would try to drive a nail in with just one blow of the hammer or, with a cry of "Eeyow!" would throw heavy timbers or cinderblock great distances instead of using the more mundane fashion of physically carrying them.

Bill was the Pied Piper, or Rancid Crabtree of my adolescence. More stories about him will follow. -
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