Back in the Spring of 1982 just before leaving Patapsco State Park I wrote a poem for one of the rangers to use with a living history program. Ranger Jim Roane conducted of terrific program he called "Tracking with the Woods Ranger." He described the frontier "rangers" who roamed the Patapsco Valley many years ago.
Jim was a talented wood carver particularly of animal figures. He had given me a nifty little tie tack he carved of a chickadee. I returned the favor by writing this poem for him. This was also as much a goodbye letter to Jim who was a good friend as I was moving away to start working at another park.
The last stanza refers to "Birdman" and "Turtleman." I had a strong interest in birds and birding. Jim's favorite critter to carve were little turtles. He always carried one in his pocket. He was a grizzled ole park ranger close to retirement. And a good friend.
I haven't see Jim in many years, but I believe he is still putting on his Ole Ranger skit as a volunteer. And undoubtedly still carving those little turtles.
The Old Ranger and the Indian
by Rick Holt
The Ole Ranger stooped on bended knee
In the flickering shade of the sycamore tree
His gaze was intense as he looked about
For he was the last of the Patapsco scout
Danger lurked on this woodland river
Indian, bear, and wolf made the settlers shiver
It was up to him to scout out the danger
So that's where you'll find the grizzled Ole Ranger
But to him it was only a labor of love
He would watch the endless flock of the passenger dove
He would sit on the bank of the whispering river
And watch a house built by a family of beaver
He would sit by his campfire and hear the wolf howl
And occasionally encounter an elk on the prowl
He smiled watching bear cubs tumble downhill
And to see the river otter was always a thrill
The Ole Ranger lived on these forested slopes
And his presence gave promise to settlers hopes
The settlers feared most the fierce Susquehannock
When they came around the settlers would panic
The Ole Ranger's job was to warn the small towns
When unfriendly Indians came roaming around
But he was the last of the Patapsco scout
And there weren't many Indians roaming about
But one day it happened much to his surprise
He met the last of that Indian tribe
The Last Susquehannock stood before him and scowled
They both knew they'd probably walked their last mile
The Ole Range raised his knife for the kill
The Last Susquehannock held his tomahawk still
He looked the Ole Ranger straight in the eye
"I'm the last of my people, I cannot die"
They sat on the ground and faced one another
And talked of their lives as if they were brothers
"It is a lonely life we lead out here
Why do we have to live it in fear?"
The Indian told how he came to be "Birdman"
The Ole Ranger told of his nickname "Turtleman"
And these tough old men both cried on this day
As each of them went their separate way
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