On Memorial Day I remember my neighbor, Bill Johnston, who was like a father to me. Bill was a WWII veteran and was also a POW. He explained early on in our over-a-decade-long relationship that war was hell, and there would be no questions or stories on the matter. He did this with a slight Scottish accent and emphatically, like William Forester in the movie Finding Forester. Over the years he would, on his own, occasionally offer up anecdotes of early years of his life to help me understand him and the world, but never in a self-aggrandizing manner.
He was a great story teller in the tradition and manner consistent with New Orleans storytelling and the 1930s. Bill, along with his wife Shirley, were English literature scholars and professors. Like parents, they provided encouragement in a general sense, helped me learn to read and write better, supported my love of poetry, and even made a personal loan to help Chocolove during the formative years. The loan has long since been repaid.
On Memorial Day I reflect on my many years with Bill and ponder what other debts I owed and whether they have been paid. While it is not a repayment, per se, I give thanks to Bill and Shirley Johnston for their role in helping Chocolove grow.