Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SO LONG "WILD BILL" We'll Miss Ye...

I first met Bill Stedman at the Redfield Hotel one thirsty night in the late ‘70s.
He was mouthing off about our President suffering from “rectal-cranial” inversion. I lost my beer out through my nose I was laughing so hard. We were shootin’ pool and he was pretty good (for an Army puke)…

We called him “Wild Bill” Stedman in those days.

He had been in a tough outfit during his service in the Army and I honor him for his service. The special training he endured in the Army is physically and mentally grueling, and any man who makes it through that deserves recognition and respect.

He was a good shot and one heckuva deer hunter and knew the Tug Hill well of course. I suppose I can say this now that he’s gone off to the great hunting ground…but Wild Bill told me he liked smoked salmon BETTER than venison sometimes. Well, I like venison a LOT more than salmon, so we agreed to swap venison for salmon pound for pound. He always gave me a tenderloin or sirloin – only the best cuts. We continued with this arrangement until I enlisted in the Navy and went away in 1980.

I haven’t seen Bill since and now I am sorry to have read his obituary. Now that he’s gone I regret I didn’t look him up when I was home on leave. He had a quick wit and a long list of jokes. He was a dependable sort and willing to help you out if you were broke. I probably still owe him like 20 bucks for beating me in 8-ball so much. Once in a while I’d beat him but I think he let me.

One time some friends and I were on the way home to Sandy Pond at zero-dark-thirty after an evening of revelry and mischief at the Redfield Hotel. Some local band had played that night and we all had a real good time. It was December and a light rain was icing up the roads so I had to drive like a Grandma. Coming around a long curve on a down slope somewhere between Redfield and Greenboro, we suddenly saw a dark figure with a flashlight in the middle of the road waving it around at an alarming rate and holding his other hand up, screaming over and over STOP! STOP! STOP! I started pumping my brakes but the tires were not experiencing any road friction on the wet ice so it took forever to get her stopped, just missing the guy with the flashlight. Then we saw the accident about a tenth of a mile down further. Looked like about 4 cars in a serious pileup in the middle of the road.

The guy with the flashlight was Wild Bill.

He was standing in the middle of the road forcing cars to stop before more cars piled up. He stood there waving that flashlight and screaming at cars until the cops and ambulances got there. Some of the cars he was stopping got a little out of control so he had to dodge them as they slid by. The man was fearless and agile. I don’t think anybody in the pile-up got hurt, but if it hadn’t been for Wild Bill stopping all those cars who knows how horrible it could have become. After he was done he just got in his vehicle and drove away.

He never mentioned it again – didn’t think anything of it I guess. The people involved in the crash don’t know it, but they owed Bill a lot after that night, maybe their very lives. Wild Bill was one of the good guys and I was fortunate to have known him only for a couple of years…we’ll miss him.

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