A Dickey Memory

By Edward Russell Hampton Tyndall

I first met James Dickey when I was 18 years old. He was staying at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina for a few days. I had already published two books of poetry and was in awe of Mr. Dickey’s work. I was invited to his room because he knew my father. I remember that he was wearing an Australian bush hat with one side snapped up. He seemed powerful and overbearing, even in his old age. He played his guitar and we sang together and then watched the waves break on the beach. We sat in silence. We spent the majority of the day together and I rode with him to the airport. On the way down to the car, in the elevator, he insisted that we sing "Do You Remember the Good Ruben James" which I did not know the words too but quickly learned before we had gone down three floors. It seems that Mr. Dickey was only concerned that I know the chorus. I would be glad to relate the entire story if you think it is worth telling. Very frankly, I thought he was a self-absorbed bastard at the time and was mad that I so loved his writing. Still, I could not help but love it. A few years later, when I was in Infantry school I tried to write him but could not get a letter out. It was strange that the two people that I wanted to talk to at that time were my girlfriend and James Dickey. I am currently a filmmaker in Wilmington, NC. I would be glad to talk with anyone who loves Mr. Dickey’s work. His writing has had a profound effect on my life. When I was a Cavalry Scout Platoon Leader my men found poetry by hearing "For the Last Wolverine."