A Tribute to David Anderson

David Anderson came into our lives in the 80s, when he was a reporter for the Lewiston Sun Journal doing a story about Bryce the Toymaker. David was a huge person, in heart and soul –– as well as physically. He was 6 foot 6, and weighed up to 500 pounds. He became a fast friend, and after he went back to Arcata, California, we kept in touch, and visited him there. He was a very dear man.

David was the environmental reporter for the paper in Eureka, an active thespian in a troupe in Arcata, and he owned one of the last hippie shacks on the beach in Manila. An avid birder, David made trips to the far corners of America to fill out his life list. The image of this giant of a man fascinated by the little birds lifted our hearts.

When we visited on his home turf (actually he was from Patton, Maine, but he'd found his nest on the California coast), David took us touring in his saggy van. We went up into the redwoods and down along the dunes, hearing tales and looking for birds. If he spotted one, David would come to a screeching halt in the middle of the road and break out his binoculars. It was great sport.

But his weight got the better of David, making him less and less mobile, and crushing the life out of him. He continued to send out cheery letters to his friends right up to the end. He died in 2002, leaving a big hole in our lives.

At the time Peggy and I were playing in a band called the SagiddyHAWKS, and we decided to write a song for David. Dr. Bob, the pianoman composed some music, and Bryce produced the lyrics. Here is a rough take of Peggy, Bob, and Bryce playing His Heart Was Flying (mp3) in our front parlor.

We then approached the local elementary school, to see if we might sponsor a program connecting the students with the birds that come to Merrymeeting Bay, in honor of David's passion. Pass the binoculars to another generation, perhaps. We were immediately put in touch with an arts in the schools program, and came up with a plan. We commissioned Marianne Marrone, one of the local arts tribe and fellow yartist, to work with a group of school kids to study and paint the local birds. The images here are their paintings, now installed in a skylit rotunda in the Bowdoinham Elementary School. We hope David would have been tickled.

Here's Marianne and the installation.