There's a bookshelf in the corner that more times than not, contains books by local authors; one author in particular himself drops the books off when he ventures in to town or stops by for a meal. His name is Kenny Salwey though more people know him as the Last River Rat. I own a copy of every book he's written, each of them autographed by him and all of them purchased from that little bookshelf in the diner.
Until Sunday morning, I'd never met the man even though he feels like an old friend from long ago.
Image courtesy of Amazon
Dave and I were mostly finishing up our omelets when I saw a couple walk in, the man instantly known to me; his hat the giveaway though I'd have known him without it. You should know that my heart started pounding and I suddenly couldn't wait to finish our coffees and get up from our table.
They had sat down only a table or so away from us and after begging their pardon, I looked both Kenny and his wife in the eye and said, "I want to thank you both for your books and to let you know how much I treasure them". Kenny writes or co-writes, his wife often does the illustrations.
Kenny shook my hand, his eyes sparkling and told me how much it meant for him to hear that. He right away wondered where I was from (a nearby River town) and when I told him, he nodded and it looked like he could instantly tell that I was someone, though in a different way, that felt the river as he does.
I never even told him my name and then apologized for interrupting their meal, leaving them to finish theirs.
The BBC filmed a documentary that played on The Discovery Channel about The Last of The River Rats. I've not seen it but will someday.
If you're interested, here an Ames, Iowa newspaper columnist explains Kenny much better than I can.
Late Sunday, before falling asleep, I pulled out one of my very worn copies and read two chapters. I fell asleep refreshed and renewed, almost always a cure for whatever might ail me.
The signed note in my book.......
May the Spirit of the River flow through you always.......The Last River Rat......Kenny Salwey