It is said where God closes a door, He opens a window.
The same can be said of the stage: Where one curtain is lowered, another is raised.
For Bill Ferguson, a door will be closed today — a curtain will be lowered — on his Manistee business, Hokanson Camera Shop. After four decades of providing friendly-focused service the longtime businessman will turn the lock on his door today for the last time. He is retiring and the sunset has assigned him a front-row seat to what is about to play out in front of him.
But as for the stage, let’s hope ole’ Scrooge will be back in guise as one character or another, sometime soon; let’s hope that curtain will be raised.
A few years ago Bill played the part of Dickens’ “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner,” which required some serious acting on his part because Bill has never unleashed any of the aforementioned furies.
But he nailed the part of Ebenezer so well that even Dickens, himself, would have exclaimed, “take a bow, Mr. Ferguson.” Which he did, to an appreciative, standing ovation in the Ramsdell Theater.
And that is what I say to Bill today in regards to him walking off into the sunset from his respected downtown business: “Take a bow, Mr. Ferguson.”
Few businesses lasted the years in downtown Manistee as did Hokanson Camera, and even fewer business people commanded the admiration of their community, as Bill.
Scrooge? Bill was, and always will be, the antithesis of that novel character, at least until the end of the story when, as Dickens wrote, “... he became as good as friend … as the good old city knew.”
That’s Bill: “A good friend.” Always has been, and always will be. Fortunately, for us, he began as our friend and now retires as our friend — no last-minute redemption of his spirit was necessary.
Bill took us from the darkroom, to the digital age, all-the-while keeping us in focus. And as film became a thing for museums, Bill embraced technology and, more importantly, helped his community to embrace and understand it. Even me. Well, maybe me.
And he did it all, with a smile.
With a smile? My goodness, Bill laughed. Day after day, week after week, year after year, it was his exhilarating laugh that served as his calling card — a laugh that took life in his heart and was passed on to the hearts of all who know him.
So, to quote Dickens one final time in his story-ending assessment of his “Christmas Carol’s” lead character: “His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.”
And with that, take a bow, Mr. Ferguson — take a bow!