A ranger at Yosemite National Park for 23 years, Shelton Johnson has a vivid, distinctive way with language – not a surprise given his training and experience as a writer and performer. During my time around him, I started a list of what I started calling “Sheltonisms”; even he joined in, uttering something to an audience, then calling to me, “Write that down.” Here’s the best of that collection:

Listen to Shelton Johnson

Dealing with the KKK at Great Basin NP.

“The most interesting people to talk to in the unemployment line are English majors.”

“It takes a village to raise an idiot.”

“The government needs applause.”

“I have to give a full and thorough answer to every question because I’m a federal employee.”

“I would like to have a flute from every culture on earth. That’s my goal. It’s a very disturbing goal for my wife.”

“If you run away playing the flute, people will follow you.”

“(Awahneechee culture) is a way of looking at yourself through different eyes.”

Three months in Africa is like three years in Italy — especially if you’re in Florence.”

“(Wildlife that habituate to humans are suffering) death on the installment plan.”

“Rock is never the same. It’s always changing because of pressure. I’d have a severe personality crisis if I were a rock.”

“Granite is a story written by the sky.”

Click Here for Shelton Johnson and the Buffalo Soldiers: ‘Spokesperson for the Dead’