My longtime friend Bud Nadeau has passed. We have been friends since our days at Chester Elementary School. By the time we were in Chester Junior High School, we had become very close.
For those who didn’t know Bud, he was born of our Vermont soil. Bud was a kid who seldom turned down, “I dare you.” As a result, Bud was often in trouble. In 1977 because of his asthma Bud moved to Arizona. In 1998 when Bud’s mother Marguerite was taken ill, Bud moved back from Arizona to take care of her.
I saw him for the first time after he returned to Vermont at the old Jiffy Mart in Chester. “Hi, Bud,” I said. We talked a few minutes and exchanged phone numbers.
As most readers will know, as we grow older we often drift apart from our high school friends. Not me and Bud. We took up right where we left off 20 years earlier, fishing, hunting, and treasure hunting.
When Bud was in Arizona, he continued hunting and archery. Bud told me a story I want to recount here.
Bud and a friend were bow hunting for mule deer in the Arizona high country. They were sitting by the campfire one night when Bud spotted a fox hanging around. Bud began talking to the fox. The fox sat on its hindquarters watching the two men. Bud tossed the fox a tidbit of food he was eating. The fox came forward grabbed the tidbit and retreated into the darkness to eat it. Soon the fox returned. This time Bud didn’t toss the tidbit as far making the fox come closer, all the while talking to the fox in his calm voice. This was repeated until the fox was within a couple feet of Bud. When the fox returned for the last time, Bud held the tidbit in his mouth. The fox now trusting Bud came up and put his front feet on Bud’s chest and took the tidbit from Bud’s mouth.
I can picture Bud doing this. He was very patient. Bud loved nature and the natural world. This story helps explain why Bud was such a skilled craftsman. He had an abundance of patience and concentration.
In later life, Bud put his woodworker skills to work creating “Sam Maloof type” rocking chairs. I worked with Bud in his workshop many evenings when he was building these chairs. Bud was very methodical and a perfectionist. A lot like feeding the fox, Bud took his time with his chairs; nothing was forced to fit. His chairs have an unusual knuckle joint where the legs join the seat.
Bud perfected this joint. It’s a complex joint that not only made the chair stronger but also created a beautiful organic chair. He didn’t make many chairs so if you are lucky enough to own one, treasure it.
I remember one warm May day being upstairs at Chester Junior High School, now the Academy Building. We had a substitute teacher this day. All of the windows were open. Bud was sitting in a desk next to the window. Outside his window was the fire escape. The substitute teacher wasn’t aware of the fire escape. Bud stood up and said, “I’ve had enough of this” and jumped out the window landing on the fire escape a few feet below. The teacher thought Bud had jumped to his death.
I think the best way I can describe Bud is to say, “Bud was Chester’s Huck Finn.”
On Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m., there will be a celebration of Bud’s life at the Chester American Legion. Those who knew Bud will remember him in his trademark flannel shirt. To honor Bud, family members will wear flannel shirts. They ask that you wear a flannel shirt if you have one. I will. Either way, dress is to be casual. A black and red hunting coat would be appropriate. An old-timer once told me that a black and red hunting coat was, “A Vermonter’s tuxedo.”
I have a few stories to share, and I invite you to share a story or two. This will be a fun celebration, as Bud would want it to be. When the celebration is over, I’ll buy a beer in Bud’s honor. Perhaps you’ll join me. Bud wasn’t wrong. He was different.
Instead of an old saying I have a question. Why do organic eggs come in plastic egg cartons?