One of the benefits of my job is that being on radio and television people recognize me….it opens the door to a conversation I might not of had otherwise. We may have passed each other depriving me of a life story that enriches my day. Happened to me again today. I walked passed an elderly man who said “thank you very mulch” as I walked by in a hurried and preoccupied gait. He had pictures in his hands. Even though I was as always in a huge hurry I put on the brakes and told him he was an “entre-manure”. He proceeded to show me beautiful pictures he takes like the duck pictured here in the pond at John Ball Zoo in the fall. The time we invested in conversation helped me realize that he really was an “entre-manure” with a story to share. My lame puns had opened the door for him to make me stop and focus on the fact we each have a story to tell. His name was Bill Hill….great name. Bill builds camouflage blinds and shoots pictures….beautiful pictures. The subjects in his pictures seem as surprised as I was to end up in the focus of his gaze. The years have made his eyes look tired….84 years going on 85 in May. I can tell you his heart is young however. Bill likes to spend evenings at the American Legion Hall singing karaoke and dancing. Bill “dances alone” now after his wife of close to 60 years passed away in 2007.
Bill was 15 years old setting pins at the Burton Bowling alley years ago when someone said…….”did you hear the news? Pearl Harbor was just bombed.” Bill admits he didn’t know where Pearl Harbor was but as a young man it changed his life. Bill entered the army in 1944 and saw England and France before leaving the Army in 1947. I think Bill’s gunnery training is put to good use today with an old but steady hand aiming the lens of a camera…not a gun…on his next subject….a bird, a squirrel, a field…and we all benefit.
I benefited from Bill’s stories like the birch tree he bought from Flowerland in 1951. He planted it at his home and is proud of the fact that tree stands healthy and tall in the spot he planted it 60 years ago. Today that tree benefits others with shade and beauty…if we stop and take a moment to think about it. How many people pass that tree and pay no attention to the benefits it provides day after day. No different than stopping to talk to 84 year old Bill Hill… with a handful of pictures and a great story to share.