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Life With NoahLife With Noah
Stories and Adventures of Richard Smith with Noah John Rondeau as told to William J. O’Hern.
By William J. O’Hern

Forager Review:

Before you read any further I need to admit two things. One, that am I a fan of Adirondack lore, and two, that I am a fan of the author. With that out of the way, let me tell you about Life With Noah, because it's a great book!
For those of you who haven’t heard of Noah John Rondeau, he was the original Adirondack Hermit, living alone for most of the early 1900’s deep in the Adirondack wilderness in a place he called "Cold River City" — population 1.
Many of you who have heard of Noah, probably read Maitland DeSormo’s book, Noah John Rondeau Adirondack Hermit, myself included.
If you enjoyed DeSormo’s Noah, I guarantee that you will love O’Hern’s. Unlike DeSormo’s book, which is an unembellished biography, Life With Noah is a picturesque trip into the Adirondacks of the 1930’s and 40’s written by men who love the outdoors and who grow to admire and respect one another.
A powerful bond takes shape in the background of scenic hunts, trout forays and tall campfire yarns. First between Noah and Richard "Red" Smith, then, towards the end of Red’s life, between Red and Jay O’Hern the author.
I was not only surprised by the feelings these stories captured, I was moved. It immediately recalled for me the fondness that I had for an old timer who took me under his wing, teaching me to split wood and to weld. The book captured something that I have rarely seen captured in print, but that is universal; a deeply felt mentor relationship.
The book consists mostly of Red Smith’s journals and lucky for us, he is an excellent story teller who patiently describes the sounds, smells, color and moods of the wilderness in simple language with colloquial style. He is also an observant man, which helps him to effortlessly carry the reader into the mountains with him; from his youth, to first meetings with Rondeau and into a life of outdoor adventure, Red recounts learning his woodcraft (as he calls it) and many tall tales from Noah John Rondeau.
In DeSormo’s book, Noah is an oddity. A strange man with stranger habits. Red Smith’s Noah is the father he always wanted and a friend he had for life.
Jay O’Hern first sought out Smith to write a book about Noah. What he ended up writing was a book about two congenial mountain men, not brutes or barbarians. Interesting men with a great respect for the mountains and each other.
I credit Jay for all that went into uncovering this treasure trove of woodsman’s lore and how ironic it is that O’Hern himself appears in Red’s last entries, which were probably written before Red knew the book would be more about himself than Noah. I’m sure that much of Jay’s work was a labor of love and it’s obvious that Red’s prose occurred simply because he liked to write.
In his recent non-fiction book titled On Writing, Stephen King answers the question: "do you do it for the money?"
His answer? "No. Don’t now and never did."
He goes on to say "I did it for the pure Joy of the thing."
Without any doubt, Life With Noah was written for the pure joy of the thing, by all three authors: Red, Jay and the Hermit of Cold River.

-Roy Reehil

You can order Life With Noah at our sister site: Adirondack-Books.com

Check out Jay's other books:
Life in a North Country Lumber Camp
Adirondack Adventures
Noah John Rondeau's Adirondack Wilderness Days
Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns
Adirondack Stories of the Black River Country
Under an Adirondack Influence

Have you heard of Adirondack French Louie?

 

 

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