Keelboat "Aux Arc" and Early Arkansaw Reenactors Association
EARA Member Smoke Pfeiffer passed away recently and this page is dedicated in his honor.
When Smoke and I first got together in 1998, he said that his ex-wife had told him there were no fur trade era reenactors here in Arkansas. I told him, "Well, if Arkansas has the Society of Creative Anachronism and Civil War Re-enactors, surely there must be Pre-1840's Buck Skinners around here somewhere. So I searched online, and there you were - EARA. He was SO-O-O-O-O EXCITED! He knew he couldn't camp like before, under a triangular shelter with bare minimum supplies. NO WAY, we had just gotten together, so first he took me to the Wooley Hollow Rendezvous just to see if I might like these people that camped out in buckskins and furs, cooked in cast iron pots over wood fires, and seemed to have the best time of their lives out in nature. I was loving it.
I really didn't like the SCA with all of their hierarchy and people that couldn't tell reality from fantasy sometimes, so I really liked the EARA people. Virtually no politics and the people seemed very nice, so I was ready to jump in with both feet. Smoke spared no expense buying a big square canvas tent, tables, chairs, a fly, ropes, etc. the whole she-bang. Our first real rendezvous was Petit Jean 1998. Clay Alexander, who I knew from the SCA was there with Joyce Hetrick, his mom, and helped me knock in the wrought iron stakes for the ropes. (we had to do it 4 times to satisfy Smoke, who used to be a surveyor for the army), after the 4th time, Clay and I both said, "Enough, Smoke, we are done!"
After we put the tent up, we were invited to the potluck and even though we had not brought anything for it (not knowing we were supposed to), we were asked to join in, that we would know next time, no problem. Smoke was so tired and his hands were hurting from arthritis, so he was ready to crash as the sun was getting low. But I convinced him that we came to meet these people, who were over at a camp fire singing and playing guitars and mandolins and dulcimers. I said, "We have to go over and at least introduce ourselves. Isn't that why you wanted to come?" I carried our chairs and a lantern over to the fire. I was going to bring his guitar, but he said "No, I can't play, my hands hurt too much." Well....after a few pulls on what I found out was called APPLE PIE, a most wonderful drink, and a lot of singing along with others, I was told by my dear boyfriend to go get his guitar please (because he couldn't walk back to the tent, but he could play the guitar!). And play he did until at least 2 AM. He and I both had a great time, and I knew he was coming back to their next rendezvous. We made some really good friends that night, and have kept them quite a long time.
Smoke always brightened up when he could go to a rendezvous, anytime, anywhere. After he was told he had congestive heart failure, he thought he couldn't go to another rendezvous, but I proved him wrong. With help from some of our Vous friends, which I HAVE GREATLY APPRECIATED SINCE 2009 WHEN HE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CHF (YOU'LL NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH) setting up and breaking down our tent and gear, he was still able to go to rendezvous's and enjoy being outdoors Spring and Fall, and winter.
(I never told anyone but a few people, but I have degenerative disc disease, which sometimes makes it very difficult for me to lift and carry heavy boxes, since my back is fused and I can't take pain medicine for it. But I did the best I could do, so I always appreciated the help immensely.)
There were times when Smoke would tell me he was "broken", and I would tell him what my mother always told me when I was little. That he had 20 minutes to feel sorry for himself, because then we would figure out a way to fix whatever made him feel that way. That we would never stop going to rendezvous if I could help it since he enjoyed them so much.
I want you all to know he was the sweetest, kindest, most loving man I have ever known. He taught me a lot about living in this world. And Joyce is right, as long as we remember him in our hearts, he will always be with us.
One final word from Smoke - "Always tell the person you love, that you love them every day, because in the hustle and bustle of the day, sometimes they forget. And you never know when it will be the last time you see them." He told me every day we were together he loved me, I did the same thing for him. It's easy to think that your wife or significant other knows it, but saying the words every day makes sure they know it to be true.
If anyone has any other pictures of Smoke please feel free to add them. He usually took the pictures and was not in them.
Thank you all for letting me do this memorial for Smoke on EARA's website.