Brian Doyle '78 | May 31, 2018
My father was a minister, although he had been a race car driver in his youth. My mother was a teacher and later became sort of a magician, but I think she liked teaching better. So I grew up in a huge rambling house between my father’s church and the village grade school.
But before I got to school I was roundly educated by my grandfather, a Bannock Indian named Worried Man, and his best friend, a Hawk Indian named Cedar. Worried Man and Cedar taught me to read and write. They taught me the names and faces of all the animals in the woods and the names of most trees, especially the seven sorts of birches. They also taught me that nothing was as important as time, and that love flourished best among lots of people, although solitude was a large and beautiful animal, with very clean teeth.
They were very old men, Cedar and Worried Man, although they didn’t think so. My grandfather was about 90 that year and Cedar was a year younger. They had become friends as teenagers and had stayed best friends since, although each claimed the other to be the most cantankerous of men.
They met along the Madison River, in Wyoming, a long time ago. It began with my grandfather guarding the Bannock horses, an enormous collection of horses of every shape and color and speed. There were two million of them, said Worried Man. The horses were carefully rounded up and corralled in a clever trap with only one narrow entrance. At the entrance Worried Man, a 17-year-old sentry, sat on his favorite horse, a huge black beast named Cow.
Worried Man sat there every night for a week, because the Bannock were expecting a savage raid from their bitter enemy, the Hawk, and the Hawk were addicted to horses. Worried Man’s job was to alert the tribe at any sign of Hawkness in the neighborhood, so all he had to do was stay awake and keep his nose open, as the Hawk reputedly smelled like bears after the winter sleep.
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