Barefoot Ben Wilson on Main Street

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, Heart of Hollyhill

Ben Wilson

February 3, 1964

 Jocie Brooke here reporting from Main Street, Hollyhill. Snow fell yesterday. At least three inches. Plenty to make the county roads slick and so no school. Yaaayy! It’s always especially cool when snow happens on a Monday. 

Everybody hates getting up on Monday morning even if they have their homework done already. And I did. I had that science report all written with a carefully drawn illustration of pistils. But why in the world are we studying plant pistils in the middle of winter? We should be studying snowflakes. Do you really believe that no two snowflakes look alike? There are millions of snowflakes. Nobody has looked at them all. Somewhere in the hundreds of years that those millions of flakes have fallen, two could be alike. Don’t you think?

Okay, back to Main Street reporting. It turns out that strange does happen in Hollyhill. But sometimes you’re so used to that strange you don’t pay it much attention. That’s how Ben Wilson is. Definitely strange. Or maybe it would be nicer to say different. Dad says Mr. Wilson marches to a different drummer than the ordinary Hollyhiller. But most of us average Hollyhillers are so used to seeing Ben that we just think of him as – well, as Ben.

But I’ve been trying to do what Wes said and be on the lookout for strange. So when I spotted Ben walking up the street barefoot in the snow, it hit me as to how that might be a little strange. I don’t know how old he is. He’s not much of a talker at least to kids like me. They say he has a way with horses. And Dad says he went off and had an important job once. I guess he didn’t like it because he came home to Holly County and put on his bib overalls and took off his shoes. I’ve seen him wear rubber boots in the summertime, but never in the snow or cold. His feet bleed sometimes and you can hear him grumbling at them when that happens. “Bleed, darn you, bleed.” Well, he doesn’t say darn, but Dad would take my pen and notebook away if I wrote what he really said. 

Old Ben carries a walking stick almost as tall as he is and lets his beard and hair grow however they want to. He walks everywhere and takes off to Louisville every year when it’s State Fair time. He’s made some friends down there among the newspaper folks. Guess you have to get away from home for people to properly appreciate your oddness. Around Hollyhill, we just say there’s goes Ben and think he ought to put on boots and a coat when it’s snowy and cold like today. 

When I showed this to Wes, he laughed and said he didn’t know what planet Mr. Wilson might be from, but that it’s one he wouldn’t mind visiting. But he doesn’t plan to go barefoot in the snow to get there.

So I guess I’ve found something strange for my Hollyhill Book of the Strange afer all. If I get started on the people here in Hollyhill, then I might have to write two books of the strange. 

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