Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bill Geagan Follow Up

Since there seems to be quite a lot of interest in Bill Geagan and "Nature I Loved" that I posted about quite a while ago, I want to bring it up again. I found out that an audio book was made by Bill Geagan's friend Hal Wheeler and published by Bangor Daily News. Last I knew, they still had quite a few copies available. I googled them and called them up to order a copy for my nephews. Unfortunately,it is only available on cassette.

Since others seem to have the same compelling questions that I had, I want to share a quote with you from Hal Wheeler. Here is what he told me in an email dated December 7, 2007.

... As you know, with Bill and Alice it was "love at first sight" and I can tell you that they certainly enjoyed a wonderful life together. In fact, because Bill never completely overcame his problem with nerves, Alice was his "protector" for most of his life, especially the last 10 or 15 years they had together. Bill and Alice kept the hunting camp for some time after they were married but eventually, because of the nature of his work, spent less and less time there. I honestly don't know if they sold it or just stopped using it. I know it no longer stands. I think they sold it, however.

And for more than $50!

I met Bill in 1955 when he was doing a twice weekly TV show on Bangor's channel 2. I was a part-time cameraman and I got to know him very well through that association. He was never comfortable doing television and gave up the show after only one season. He truly was a very private man and being in the glare of klieg lights with a big camera staring at him wasn't his cup of tea.

Bill had done a radio show on Bangor's WLBZ for several years and was much more comfortable, though not entirely, on radio than on TV. The studio was large and had very subdued lighting and dark panelled walls which made him feel much more at "home" The program was called "Along the Trail." He would always sign off with these words: "I see that our campfire is burning low..."

A few years before he became ill and died, Coward McCann (or the company that bought that house) was pestering Bill to write more books but he just couldn't concentrate on the task so they were never written. He and Alice had no children, but, as you know, a nephew who spent a lot of time with them.

He was always a complete gentleman and would gladly autograph a book on request, always drawing a snowshoe rabbit in full flight on the page. He autographed my copy and if your copy doesn't have that little drawing, I'd be glad to sen you a photocopy of it.

Sadly, Alice's last years were darkened by Alzheimer's (we didn't know the name of that disease then) and she lived in virtual squalor during that time, flushing food down the toilet and hiding social security checks and then claiming someone was stealing them. A very kind public health nurse did all she could to keep her as stable and safe as possible until she finally had to be admitted to the City hospital where she died.

If Bill had had the "chutzpah" that Bud Leavitt of the Bangor Daily News possessed he would have been a richer man, but I'm not sure he would have been happier. He was a child of nature and material things meant nothing to him except as a means of providing the necessities.

I found more information and a pencil sketch of Mr.Geagan at Bangor Daily News.

I hope you find this additional information interesting.

1 comment:

nathaniel said...

I found two copys of tapes. one on e-bay and one on amazon but out of the 1 thousand that were made none are available. excellant tape set thanks