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The Hermit of Mad River
By P. Elmer Roland

Reprinted from January, 1933 edition of Ye Slyvan Archer

From his rough platform in the swaying top of a 100-foot elm tree, the 75-year-old “Hermit of Mad River” looks down without envy on the world he fled eighteen years ago.

The Macon (Georgia) Evening News of Dec. 15, 1932 tells how this man – an art instructor in an Ohio college – fled to the woods to spend the few remaining months physicians warned him he might expect to live. But the fresh air and sunshine of his Robinson Crueso existance effected a complete cure and the hermit stays on, enjoying the companionship of birds and animals of the woods, and seeing no one except on rare occasions, when he slips away to a store for bare necessities.

States the News: “Most of his wants he supplied himself. He took small game with the bow and arrow he fashioned, and the Mad River abounded in fish. With his food, he hoisted himself, by means of a rope and pulley and counterweights, back to his tree-top perch.

“Then, three years ago, his rope broke. No longer sick, but too old to scale the tree and unable to buy a new rope, he was forced again to dwell on the ground. His home for fifteen years was always in sight, but beyond reach.

“Recently Amandus Grossman of Tiffin, ex-sheriff of Seneca County, and Carl Pugh, a friend, came on the old man in the woods. Their friendliness drew the hermit out. He told of his need for rope. Grossman procured it.

“ But how to get it to the tree-top platform? The hermit merely asked for a spool of thread and a ball of twine. Attaching the thread to an arrow, he drew his bow. Up and over the platform it went. Then to the thread he attached the twine, drew it over the limb, and with it the rope. Then with Grossman’s help it was simple for the old man to clamber up the rope, pass it through the pulley and attach the counterweights in order that he may rise or descend single-handed once more.”

So the Hermit of Mad River is back in his tree-top home. No doubt he leads a contented, though simple, life. He is, so to speak, above the turmoil of the times; has not felt the thumb and finger of the depression. From his arboreal aerie he looks down without envy upon the world. Happy in the companionship of furred and feathered wood folk. Secure in his skill with bow and arrow.