Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Bill Smith

Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Bill Smith

Article excerpt

Born in 1937 into a large family in the "Featherbed" section near South Colton, on the northern outskirts of the Adirondack Park, Bill Smith is a teller of tales, a singer of songs, and a maker of traditional Adirondack pack baskets. He learned each of these trades first at home from his parents, his father's lumberjack friends, and the assorted other characters who would come through the Smith house and the nearby woods in Bill's childhood. The household was without electricity until 1954.

Bill has been a trapper and fur buyer, a pulpwood cutter, and a hunting and fishing guide. For several years, he taught outdoor education in area public schools and colleges.

As the youngest of 10 children, all his brothers had moved out of the house by the time Bill received his first musical instrument by mail--a guitar from the Sears & Roebuck Company. Bill was inspired to play from hearing Dick Law, an accomplished musician, and also by his mother who played pump organ and taught him many songs.

With his father often gone for weeks at a time, working in the woods, Bill and his mother would spend many lonely nights playing and singing together; country songs and sentimental love pieces were among their favorites. …

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