Life With Noah
Stories and Adventures of Richard Smith with Noah John Rondeau as told to William J.
By William J. OHern
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 havent heard of Noah John Rondeau, he was the original
Adirondack Hermit, living alone for most of the early 1900s 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 DeSormos book, Noah
John Rondeau Adirondack Hermit, myself included.
If you enjoyed DeSormos Noah, I guarantee that you will love OHerns.
Unlike DeSormos book, which is an unembellished biography, Life With Noah is
a picturesque trip into the Adirondacks of the 1930s and 40s 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 Reds life, between Red and Jay OHern 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 Smiths 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 DeSormos book, Noah is an oddity. A strange man with stranger habits. Red
Smiths Noah is the father he always wanted and a friend he had for life.
Jay OHern 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 woodsmans lore
and how ironic it is that OHern himself appears in Reds last entries, which
were probably written before Red knew the book would be more about himself than Noah.
Im sure that much of Jays work was a labor of love and its obvious that
Reds 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. Dont 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.
You can order Life With Noah at our sister site:
Check out Jay's other books:
Life in a North Country Lumber Camp
Noah John Rondeau's Adirondack Wilderness Days
Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns
Adirondack Stories of the Black River Country
Under an Adirondack
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