To the Editor,
Rick Hall - Richard Allen Hall - left us and the world for good last week. And though I know only pieces of his previous life, most are colorful and some deserve recounting.
Many were spent on or beside the sea. As deckhand or mate, Rick crewed on fishing boats and though I don’t recall he ever owned one himself, he hardly needed to. He was formidable surfcaster, producing blues and stripers at my door for many years - often skillfully filleted.
Just about the only time I know of that he wasn’t on the water - or later in life hanging around Old Harbor - were the years he tells me that he got in trouble for driving without a license. When picked up twice that way they collared him. But he walked off the road crew they’d assigned him to, and when picked up yet again, and found to be carrying a switchblade, had to do some indoor time. The stories he told about jail weren’t exactly “Cool Hand Luke” caliber. But chilling all the same. And then, he once explained one sultry day over a beer, he had done some heavy drinking. But that was behind him as it had not gone well. Fact is, in the final years I knew him he would just take ice water when
he joined me for a gam on the porch.
Rick loved animals and they him, as my Portuguese water dog, Henry, demonstrated vigorously whenever Rick stopped by. Yet he had no compulsion about shooting game for food, and in season kept our freezer full of venison.
Rick lost his driver’s license long ago. He once told me why. Some minor infringement as I remember that became compounded after he was stopped a second time. Was searched by the cops who found an old switchblade. From then on he bicycled everywhere. Many’s the time I would pass him walking his machine patiently up “stripgut hill”, while waving off the lift I offered.
For me and my family Rick served the role of what often is referred to in a faintly dismissive tone as a handy man. Handy Rick certainly was at many things - from fishing, to maintaining lawn equipment and to tossing the ball for Henry. But what I found him most handy at was his easy friendship. “Hi Pete,” he’d say when he’d show up looking for a few hours’ work or to borrow the mower for the Hollow, as he called my sister’s nearby property. He had lived there in recent years spring, summer and fall - a caretaker and welcome impediment to kids looking for an empty house in which to misbehave. Winters he managed to wrangle a room at the Island Manor.
Let me add, then, with this alphabetic toast to the long list of memorable island characters yet one more: I give you Ricky Hall!
P S Wood
Old Mill Road