Boozy lived on the edge of the village by the local watering hole in a tree house, that’s right a house woven into the strong, fabric limbs of an old oak tree. The tree had been named Brunhilde—the Princess found in ancient Germanic heroic literature. The tree had withstood category five hurricanes.
Boozy, an orphan, had lived under that tree since anyone could remember. Not a member of that village could pinpoint where he came from, he just showed up one day in the village of Odeur (French word pronounced od-uh-r), meaning odor. Not a totally unpleasant smell but a smell none the less, difficult to identify.
As a young adult in his twenties, Boozy decided he wanted a roof over his head, a house to call his own. Therefore, he built himself a solid tree house about midway through the strongest branches of the old oak tree. People watched him construct what many in the village referred to as the number one wonder in all of Odeur, hell in all of the state!
No one in Odeur had ever lived above ground level. Boozy loved his house mostly during strong breezes; the tree rocked him to sleep. Boozy remembered someone rocking him as a little boy. That memory was one he cherished dearly, it was one of his only memories as a child. And that one tiny speck of memory was a big piece of his world. Someone had held him, loved him, and cared for him.
Boozy had no friends to speak of, save his animal friends who lived alongside him in his tree, affectionately known as the Rocking Tree. Boozy had crafted a sign with a carving depicting a tree blowing in the wind. See, Boozy had never been to school, but Boozy knew that everyone read art.
People loved stopping by as they left or entered the village of Odeur to chat with Boozy in Cajun French. An outlier he was, but so is the maker of this story. OUTLIERS are GOOD! See, Boozy was an equal with the language since Cajun French is not a written language. Boozy always had strong sweet black coffee brewing. He served it in wooden cups hewn from oak wood. Boozy was quite a craftsman.
Boozy served as the village animal caretaker as he had adopted so many homeless animals. He had worked out a deal with the local vet that he would care for the animals if the vet would fix them. Boozy knew there were too many animals in Odeur without homes, food, love, and good care. He worked out a work program with the seniors at the Odeur High School. They would help Boozy care for the animals: feeding, bathing, playing with the animals and cleaning the area round Rocking Tree. Boozy’s animal care program had become known at the state level and some of his volunteer seniors went on to become veterinarians. One of the first women vets came from Odeur (no small feat since this was the 1940s). Boozy had already broken the glass ceiling for girls and women before that was a popular term.
Boozy, lived without utilities. The village had offered to wire up his tree for lights and even running water, but Boozy preferred to live the old way of fetching water from a well and using the moonlight when it was available. He knew the Good Lord would provide for him. Not a church goer, but Boozy knew God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus. And that Boozy, he loved and the Earth and his environment.
Well, I’m sure you’re wondering about Boozy’s name; and no, n’er a drop of liquor touched that man’s lips. Not saying liquor is bad, for this writer is known to sip a glass of wine now and then. As mentioned early in this short recollection about our man, Boozy, he lived near the local watering hole, saloon, bar, however y’all might make reference to a place of spirits. He hung out there, but that’s not how he got his name.
When asked how he got his name, Boozy said, “ Someone rocked me as a baby and sang Boozy, Boozy, I love you.” And from thereafter Boozy’s recollection is, that’s my name.
At one of the village council meetings, Miss Letitia Evers, a council woman, made a motion that each year on Boozy’s birthday the town should celebrate Boozy’s Day! The motion passed unanimously; Boozy was so touched that big tears, so big one could hear them plop upon his lap while sitting under his tree, Brunhilde! The whole of the village council came to tell Boozy that he would be honored. And then the conundrum; Boozy didn’t know his birthday?! Puzzled, perplexed, saddened, Miss Letitia Evers came to the rescue.
She said, “Boozy, pick a birthday; any day you’d like? It could even be celebrated on different days each year,” she elaborated.
Miss Letitia Evers was the village council woman who was quick to save the day. Boozy chose August 16 as his birthday. He loved late summer and functioned best in summer heat and humidity. Boozy was aging and the summer was easier on his rheumatism.
Each August 16, the celebration just got bigger and more impressive. Truly, the day was about Boozy, and never changed from, “It’s all about Boozy!”
Outliers like Boozy are people, too. Look out for them as the village of Odeur did. They celebrated Boozy, his gifts, humble spirit and love for animals.
Often, an outlier can put a village on the map; Boozy certainly did that for the village of Odeur. The little village with a distinct smell, not necessarily bad.