"Blue Skirt Waltz"
A Time Long Gone By
sequence by Tom Brusky
Gloria's Memory Lane
Grandmother, on a winter's day,
I remember the poem above from my childhood. Mother included it in a collection of poems
that she saved over the years and put in a scrapbook for me. Since I didn't want to neglect
Grandpa, I wrote the following companion poem:
Milked the cows and fed them hay;
Slopped the hogs, harnessed the mule,
And got the children off to school.
Did a washing, mopped the floors,
Washed the windows and did some chores,
Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit,
And pressed her husband's Sunday suit.
Swept the parlor, made the beds,
Baked a dozen loaves of bread,
Split the firewood, lugged some in,
(enough to fill the kitchen bin.)
Churned the butter, baked a cake,
And then exclaimed, "For goodness sake,
Those darned calves are out again!"
Went and chased them into the pen.
Gathered the eggs, locked the stable,
Back to the house to set the table;
Cooked a supper that was delicious,
Afterward washed up all the dishes.
Fed the cat, sprinkled the clothes,
Mended a basket full of hose,
Then opened the organ and began to play
"When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day!"
by Barbara Koska Timm
Grandfather, on a winter's day,
Cleaned out the stalls and threw down hay;
Spread manure and sharpened his tools,
Bought some oats for the horse and mule.
Rode a fence line and patched some breaks,
Cut a pile of cedar shakes;
Cleaned and polished his Sunday boots,
And dynamited an old tree root.
Patched a hole in the lean-to shed,
Painted his little boy's wagon red;
Stacked some kindling by the kitchen bin,
And brought a peck of potatoes in.
Stropped his razor and had a shave,
Sneaked a piece of fresh-baked cake;
Kissed his wife on the cheek and then
Went outside to catch a hen.
Dressed the bird for the Sunday table,
Nailed down a board on the farmhouse gable;
Dipped from the reservoir into the tub
So Grandma and he could have a scrub.
After supper when the light grew dim,
He lit the lamps as he hummed a hymn;
Then he picked up the Book and opened a page,
And read to Grandma at the end of the day.
"The Clothesline Said So Much"
A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by.
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the fancy sheets
And towels on the line;
You'd see the comp'ny table clothes
With intricate design.
The line announced a baby's birth
To folks who lived inside
As brand new infant clothes were hung
So carefully with pride.
The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed
You'd know how much they'd grown.
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare.
New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors raised their brows,
And looked disgustedly away.
But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess.
I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line!
Barbara says: "Mom washed clothes every Monday morning ~ PERIOD ~ no ifs, ands or buts. That's what all the ladies did. Do you remember the "Days of the Week" kitchen towels? Monday was for laundry, on Tuesday you ironed, you mended on Wednesday, Thursday was for shopping, on Friday you cleaned, you baked on Saturday, and Sunday was the day of rest.
Mom did the entire washing for Grandpa, me, and herself before she went to work at Dr. Mahle's office. She used a wringer washing machine which grandpa brought into the kitchen the night before so it would be ready. He made two wooden stands to hold the huge galvanized rinse tubs. One of these tubs did double-duty as our bathtub every Saturday night after being filled with water from the reservoir on the wood-burning cookstove.
Grandpa also made two huge folding clothes racks so the laundry could be hung to dry inside the house on rainy Mondays. But rain was the only element which kept the laundry inside. All through the frigid Minnesota winters, the laundry was hung outside.
Mom discovered "freeze-dried" long before it became a food industry catch-phrase. When she got home from work in the wintery evenings, she would scurry to the clothes lines behind the house and gather the things inside to finish drying. Everything looked so funny because each item of clothing was stiff as a board and had to be forcibly bent over the rungs of the drying racks.
Amazingly, once the laundry was hung inside, it finished drying quickly. When the fresh sheets were put on the beds, they smelled heavenly!"
"One, Two, Three!"
by Henry Cuyler Bunner
It was an old, old, old, old lady,
And a boy that was half-past three;
And the way that they played together
Was beautiful to see.
She couldn't go romping and jumping,
And the boy no more could he;
For he was a thin little fellow,
With a thin little twisted knee.
They sat in the yellow sunlight,
Out under the maple tree;
And the game they played I'll tell you,
Just as it was told to me.
It was hide-and-go-seek they were playing,
Though you'd never have know it to be -
With an old old old old lady,
And a boy with a twisted knee.
The boy would bend his face down
On his little sound right knee,
And he guessed where she was hiding
In guesses One, Two, Three.
"You are in the china closet!"
He would laugh and cry with glee -
It wasn't the china closet,
But he still had Two and Three.
"You are up in Papa's big bedroom,
In the chest with the queer old key!"
And she said; "You are warm and warmer
But you're not quite right," said she.
"It can't be the little cupboard
Where Mama's things used to be -
So it must be in the clothespress, Gran'ma!"
And he found her with his Three.
Then she covered her face with her fingers,
That were wrinkled and white and wee,
And she guessed where the boy was hiding,
With a One and a Two and a Three.
And they never had stirred from their places
Right under the maple tree -
This old, old, old, old lady,
This dear, dear, dear old lady,
And the boy who was half-past three.
Grandma told me all about it;
Told me so I couln't doubt it ~
How she danced ~ my grandma danced ~
How she held her pretty head,
How her dainty skirt she spread,
How she turned her little toes,
Smiling like a human rose!
Grandma's hair was bright and sunny,
Dimpled cheek, too ~ oh, how funny~
Really, quite a pretty girl,
Bless her! Why, she wears a cap,
Grandma does, and takes a nap
Every single day; and yet
Grandma danced the minuet
Now she sits there rocking, rocking,
Always knitting grandpa's stocking,
(Every girl was taught to knit
Yet her figure is so neat,
And her smile so kind and sweet,
I can almost see her now,
Bending to her partner's bow,
Grandma says our modern jumping,
Hopping, rushing, whirling, bumping,
Would have shocked the gentle folk,
No ~ they moved with stately grace,
Everything in proper place,
Gliding slowly forward, then
Slowly curtsying back again,
Modern ways are quite alarming,
Grandma say; but boys were charming ~
Girls and boys, I mean, of course ~
Bravely modest, grandly shy ~
What if all of us should try
Just to feel like those who met
In the graceful minuet
With the minuet in fashion,
Who could fly into a passion?
All would wear the calm they wore
In time to come, if I perchance
Should tell my grandchild of our dance,
I should really like to say,
"We did, my dear, in some such way,
Rules For Elementary School Teachers
Fairbanks, Alaska, 1898
Contributed by Sam Fields
(I suspect these rules were fairly common in Minnesota
and other states and territories as well.)
- Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal daily.
- Men teachers may take one evening a week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
- After 10 hours of school the teacher should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
- Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be discharged.
- Any teacher who uses liquor in any form, frequents pool halls, taverns, or gets shaved in a barbershop gives cause to suspect his character.
- The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given a pay increase of 25 cents per week, providing the Board of Education approves.
- Each teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his declining years, so that he will not become a burden to society.
by Esther Mary Walker
Blessed are they who understand
my faltering step and palsied hand.
Blessed are they who know that my ears today
must strain to catch the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know
that my eyes are dim and my wits are slow.
Blessed are they who looked away
when coffee spilled at the table today.
Blessed are they with a cheery smile
who stop and chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who never say,
"You've told that story twice today."
Blessed are they who know the ways
to bring back memories of yesterdays.
Blessed are they who make it known
that I'm loved, respected and not alone.
Blessed are they who know I'm at a loss
to find the strength to carry the Cross.
Blessed are they who ease the days
on my journey Home in loving ways.
My aunt wrote this lovely letter to my mother.
Mom died the next day.
My daughter read it at her Grandma's funeral.
February 4, 2001
I hope that this finds you resting a little easier. I have been calling every day, but thought that a note would be better. And as I can't see to write, I brought out the vintage typewriter. I hope that it does the trick if I haven't forgotten the keyboard.
Mary and a number of my friends have been after me to write my own life story. After a lot of prompting without success, Mary brought home a Mother to Daughter 365 page calendar with a question for every day of the year. January 1 asked for date and time of the birth. The next day asked for the specific place of birth. And so it went. But all in all, it set me to thinking of the times that you and I had together. Wonderful!
Early in March before you were born, Mother and I took a buggy trip from the Burnham farm to the doctor in Plainview for a check-up. Mother drove Star, a beautiful chestnut Morgan mare. It was a warm day, the ice and snow melting. By the time we returned toward home, the water was up way over the banks of the Burnham creek, and by the time we turned off of highway 42 into the drive, the small cement block that formed the bridge was completely out of sight. As Star stepped forward fully expecting to touch terra firma before the bridge, she went way down. Scrambling up and lurching forward, (Mother still fully in control), she floundered about and swam, pulling the buggy behind her as it floated to the other side and safe ground.
You were my pride and joy right from the start. I was fortunate enough to name you, so I was told. I named you Marian for a nurse, Marian Carpenter. She had a twin sister, Myrtle, also a nurse. Another sister was Martha Graivess. Your middle name, Margarete was for an older childhood friend, Margarete Venables. Her father, Charles, had roomed at the Mountain Ash House, owned and operated by our Grandmother.
When Highway 42 was being rerouted, graded and graveled, do you recall you and I climbing the pussy-willow trees at the west end of the second grove to the south of the highway and west of School District school #63? We used to get up in the trees and sing at the top of our young lungs. I think most of the songs were religious that we learned in church. However, there were many that we knew from school – "The Old Oaken Bucket," "Home, Sweet Home," etc. Then from the war veterans in the family, "Camping Tonight," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," etc. From Dad there was "When You and I Were Young, Maggie." Some place we picked up "Santa Lucia." It was fun.
Do you recall the afternoon "stroll" we took down Beaver Hill? It was such a lovely spring day, and all down hill! About three hours later from the time we left home, Dad got worried and came after us in the car. He knew that usually we walked at 4 to 5 miles an hour, and the direction we took. So it was a cinch to find us along the bluffs in the wild flowers.
We herded cows together, picked corn for the factory, hoed beans, wed onions, picked strawberries. And eventually, you followed me into nursing school. What a great pleasure to have a little sister that looked up to me so much in everything!
Well, I don't want to tire you or bore you, but we have had great times together, haven't we? I do hope that you are feeling better. Do enjoy the flowers I sent.
All my love, Inez
Tribute to "Meg"
Written by Laura Smith, her granddaughter
"Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?"
I am thinking today of that beautiful land
I shall reach when the sun goeth down.
When through wonderful grace
By my Savior I stand,
Will there be any stars in my crown?
Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown,
This was one of my grandmother's
favorite hymns. According to Matthew, chapter 25, God gives each of us
talents according to our abilities. My grandmother used hers to spread the
love of God to everyone she knew. If you ever ate one of her delicious
cookies or snuggled your feet into a warm pair of hand-knit slippers, you
have been loved by my grandma. If a jar of her homemade jelly or pickles
ever found their way into your kitchen cabinet, you have been loved by my
When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest
In the mansions of rest,
Will there be any stars in my crown?
She spent many nights
after a hard day's work holding the hand of a dying patient so they would
not be alone at the end. She made mittens for everyone she cared for and
grew tomato plants in windowsills for her residents at Hillcrest Nursing
Home to enjoy. She gave many gifts of love to all who knew her.
I'm sure that when my grandma passed
into the presence of the Lord, she brought her talents before her King
multiplied many times over. I am certain that Jesus took her by the hand
and said, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a
few things: I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of
your Lord." My grandma is with Jesus now, where there is no more pain or
sorrow. He has wiped away every tear. She will be missed by all of us as
she was loved by all of us.
WABASHA CO 1884
WABASHA CO 1920
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