Delightful old friends

“Ah! How good it feels! The hand of an old friend.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This was the inscription Whit wrote in the book he put in my Christmas stocking this year. It was perfect for the book, Where the Red Fern Grows, a novel by Wilson Rawls that I read in Mrs. O’Brien’s fourth grade class. But mostly, I read it at night with Mom that year in my bed at night, turning page after page, asking her if she thought it would be OK if we read ahead of what I was assigned. Just a little bit.

And of course, she always said yes.

For the second time, I was totally drawn in to the story of Billy, his beautiful red coon hounds Old Dan and Little Ann, and Billy’s wryly old Grandpa, ” simply the best grandpa a boy could have.”

So, what have I been doing with my half days? Spending them with old friends, of course. Oh, and napping. And surfing the Internet. And watching election coverage.

But my favorite activity so far was finishing Where the Red Fern Grows today, delightfully turning each page, remembering my first reactions to the story and comparing them to my current reaction (He’s going to cut down the biggest tree in the forest just to get a coon?!”

Just ask my English camp kids what delightful means. Coincidentally, it’s one of our emotion words we are learning this week, words they define in varying degrees of happiness. Delightful? “Teacher! It means very very happy.”
Yes, yes it does.


  1. So, I know this is blog faux pas, but I need to respond to a question poised by Whit. I actually got those boots in Oxford years ago. And while I am clearly a shoe guy, I get more compliments on those boots than any other pair of shoes.And I cried in that story. I think it’s still the only movie I teared up in as a kid. Well, that and the NeverEnding Story.


  2. Emily says:

    I reread it last year and sobbed like a child. One of my all time favorites— an old friend. Well, said.


  3. timanbren says:

    Hey whit…it is a treat to chat with you all. Hope all is wwell and you are having many great adventures….i hope that i am doin this right! Your thoughts on “The Red Fern Grows” inspired me to comment! We all love the book and the movie…definately a family favorite! It always makes me think of my dad and the many stories that i have heard about him hunting in the mountains of West. Va. At one time he even had puppies named Dan and Ann! hopefully this will be a beginning….hope to see you all in May! Brenda and Tim


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