While I was working on a pair of moccasins at the Bois D’Arc Primitive Skills Gathering this past weekend, a man came into the tent and sat down. I could tell by the way they interacted that he and my instructor Wanda knew each other well. He picked up a drum she had in her tent, played it, praised it, and asked to borrow it. “Sure, John,” Wanda replied. “All we have is yours,” Wanda’s daughter added.
John stepped outside the tent, stood before it, drummed and sang. His voice was clear and haunting. “Oh, those old songs,” he said. “I know so many that I’ve started to forget them.” Then he sang another, and he walked off.
John is apparently a fixture at the Bois D’Arc gathering. He sings and tells stories every year. I only spent a few moments in his presence, but I could tell that I wanted to spend more. So when I got home, I started searching for him on the internet, and I found his story. He tells it unabashedly. I share it now with you: My Life Story by John Hernandez.