Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Iowaville:Wes the Whistler

The day I first met Wes the Whistler, I actually heard his whistle before I saw him. I was just a young boy and my mom and I had driven into town with a few pairs of shoes to take to a cobbler to fix. Wes was that cobbler.

We pulled up to a well maintained two story house surrounded by eight foot hedges and as I opened my car door, I heard the whistling. It was coming from inside the hedges and was almost hypnotic. Even as an eight year old boy with accompanying attention span, I probably could have stood there and listened to him for hours. I followed my mom along the hedge to a gap with a fence and she knocked on the wooden gate set there. Wes hailed us and told us to come right in.

Wes was an older man whom I later learned was a retired banker. His hobby of cobbling shoes before retirement now continued to keep him active after retirement and even back then, he was the last of a dying breed. Walking into his house basement, I was instantly overwhelmed with the smell of old leather and rubber soles. Along an old well used workbench was an assortment of tools the likes of which I had never seen nor will I probably ever see them again. He resoled our shoes and off we went.

Over the years, I would see or rather hear Wes around town and at events. To this day, he is the only person I have ever met who just loved to whistle for the sheer joy of it. Walking down the street or sitting on the bleacher at a local ball game, he was always whistling songs. 

I'm not sure what ever happened to Wes the Whistler of my memories. In my memory, his memory just kind of grays out and disappears when I was a teenager so I suspected he died but when I googled him, I found that he died a couple years after I left for college. Part of his disappearance was probably our fault since we switched to buying shoes that were easier to dispose of rather than be resoled. Perhaps another part was that as I got older, his whistling made less of an impression on me. However, if there existed a CD of his whistling, I bet I could pop it in and enjoy it even more than I did as a young kid. I did learn from his wife's obituary which is where I learned of Wess's death, that he has three children, one named Wes Jr. living in the town I live in now. I'll have to keep my ears open to see if I hear anyone whistling for the pure joy of it.


sage said...

As a child, I remember an older woman in church who loved to whistle, not just tunes, but the sounds of all kinds of birds. She would often whistle the last verse of a hymn and I thought that was pretty neat. Good story.

Ed said...

Sage - Just after I wrote this post, I read about some guy out east who was court ordered to keep moving when whistling. I guess he would sit on a bench outside a shop somewhere and drive the owners crazy. I can't remember the last time I met someone whistling on the street. It has been way too long.

Murf said...

My brother is a great whistler. It's hilarious when he does it. If I ever get married again, I want him to whistle 'Here Comes The Bride'.

Leigh said...

What a great read this post is. Seems like we just take things for granted all too easily.

Bone said...

This reminds me of the time my Dad took me to his friend's photography studio and I saw my first topless woman. Well, photograph of a topless woman.

OK, so the stories aren't exactly the same.

This is a nice memory anyway. Yours, not mine. Well, OK, mine too.