By Bob Jamison

          Who knows what goes on in the minds of men (people)? Somebody knows but therein lays the mystery.

          Many years ago out on the Dayton Prairie there lived an old gentlemen; a character most everyone knew. We called him Mr. Bill because little was known of his very limited family and he had few, if any, real close friends.

          Mr. Bill was friendly enough, however, but he had a severe case of deafness. He couldn’t hear a train going through his ancient house. His home of ages was a frame two story, unpainted structure that was also home for an invasion of termites. The cement blocks upon which it was situated was the avenue of opportunity for these wood chewing choppers climbing upwards toward the rotting foundation.

          Not to be thwarted by a simple insect and realizing that the taller than necessary structure might tend to be leaning to the north a bit, Mr. Bill did the logical thing under the circumstance. He attached cable to earth anchor screws with the other end near the corner of the roof. He designed it to stabilize the tilt and it stood the test of time.

          His door knocker was also unique. Since he couldn’t hear the door bell (if he had one, which he didn’t because he had no electricity) he attached a huge barn door hinge to the end of a ten foot 2x6 board. A rope to the ceiling of porch held the other end. A visitor would simply pull the 2x6 back and let it swing hitting the side of the house sending a vibrating signal that someone was at the door!

          Likely, Mr. Bill had little education. On the other hand, he had a number of ‘self educating’ books on his shelf that guided one’s imagination to the insight of his mental makeup. One in particular was a detailed documentary of veterinarian medicine. Therefore he proclaimed to be the best lay person vet on the prairie. A hog farmer sent word (by mail) that he had a hog that died of something. Mr. Bill went over to see the hog corpse and declared it had cholera; but he didn’t have it very bad. Another of his books, “Law Without Lawyers”.

          Mr. Bill’s mailing efforts were also a matter of great interest. Of all things, he had an antique typewriter with which he wrote notes on many penny postcards. Most of these were to persons that he knew had the means to purchase property. He actually had a real estates broker’s license and often ended his correspondence with his license number below his signature.

          He had a special deal on a piece of property and sent the local druggist, J. D, an invitation to consider the purchase. J.D. did go out to see Mr. Bill only to find him sitting at his dilapidated desk, typing away to another potential customer. The door to the old house was seldom closed so J.D. walked on in without trying the ‘door knocker’. J. D. was a little on the squeamish side so he almost stepped back from the strong odor of kerosene lamp fumes and crumbled egg shells all over the kitchen floor. He could hear Mr. Bill hammering on the typewriter with both index fingers so he entered the room and saw his billy goat looking over his shoulder and apparently passing judgment of the outcome of his typing prowess.

          Mr. Bill went to see his local banker with another proposition. He wanted to sell his home place of several acres at a reasonable price. The young banker made several trips to talk (or listen) to his offer. “No minerals” went with the deal. But Mr. Bill was in his 90’s then so he did agree that upon his death the minerals would go to the buyer. A proper deed was made and the arrangement with a notary was pending.

          “One more thing, Jimmy, I want you to fix me a will that my assets will go to the state eleemosynary institute (state hospital for the insane). Jimmy later learned his wife had been in the hospital many years. He never married again and her room and all her belongings were exactly as she left it. Apparently he never reentered the room.

          Jimmy returned to the home a few days later with a lawyer written will. The door was closed and locked. He looked in the window and saw Mr. Bill lying on his couch with his jacket over his feet. He slept quietly never to wake again. Who knows what stories of his mysterious life quietly drifted away?