“French Louie” Seymour was a rare person and a good hermit.
I don’t know if hermits are “good” by nature or if French Louie was simply a nice man. Everyone that met him liked him. There was something about Louie that I just liked.
Even his hooting and hollering in the streets of the tiny village of Prospect was cherished by those who knew him.
I don’t want to lead you astray. French Louie did not spend much time in Prospect. If he needed some provisions or a few drinks then he would visit. Otherwise he stayed in one of his five “homes” in the Canada Lake section of the Adirondack Mountains.
His nicest home was this slab shanty. Another was a cave. The third was big old hollow log with a lantern to keep him warm. For the life of me I can’t remember where the other two were. But I do understand from John Leaf, French Louie’s Indian friend, that there were two more “homes.”
French Louie liked animals. Someone told me he had a pet snake. I cannot back that up. I never saw him petting a snake although there were always several guarding his “garden” from insects, slugs and frogs. Louie did love animals. One time I overheard Louie and John Leaf arguing about John’s habit of poaching deer. I will leave that story for another time.
When Louie showed up in the Adirondacks the “sports” had been here for a long time. It was the beginning of the end. Louie must have been very perceptive. He moved as far away from the city visitors as he could get – – – and he stayed there. Then, pity on poor Louie, the visitors started seeking him out. The last thing he wanted was city people visiting him.
If you ask me we had a lot of people that could be considered “hermits.” But that was long before French Louie arrived. There were people living alone all over these North Woods. Indians, Frenchmen, not too many English. It seems as though no one thought of those people as hermits. But then Louie came here; and soon anyone who lived alone was called a “hermit.”
I wonder if it had something to do with all the people from Boston and New York that were showing up for relaxation and sporting. The more I think about it the more I believe that is the case. The city dwellers thought that the Adirondack life was “quaint” and they needed some romantic characters to go along with the quaintness.
Poor Louie was selected as one of their first.
So now we have hermits. Before we simply had “lonely” people, or “withdrawn” people, or “strange” people, but now we have “hermits.” Ah yes, the mind is an inventive thing.
It probably won’t be too long before we romanticize people like Dunning and Sabbatis and Old Man Phelps. Can you just imagine that? Trying to describe those three characters in a romantic manner?
You might have better luck selling ladies purses made of Indian beads.