Bill Smith has become as much an icon
of life in the Adirondack Mountains as the guideboat, the lean-to shelter, the
ash splint pack basket (which he happens to make with great skill), or the
slat-back chair that bears the region’s name. His fame—and his celebration of
the many traditions of life in his home place in the northern foothills—have
spread to many places in the past thirty years of his life, ever since he gave
up distant construction jobs for a life with his family in the woods he loves.
Now 65, Bill is a native and lifelong resident of the place he calls the Featherbed, just above the village of Colton in St. Lawrence County. He is a son of Roy Smith, a woodsman who hauled provisions into the lumber camps of fifty or more years ago, and Emily Bicknell Smith, who raised ten children and augmented the family income by boarding men who were on their way into or out of the lumbering operations. From his father Bill learned about many of the old woodsmen‘s adventures and how to tell their stories; from his mother he learned many old ballads and songs that were popular among local folks in an earlier time in the North Country.
Text from the Journal of New York Folklore
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