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Poems

By C. R. Dowler
6 October 1872 - abt 1950

Donated for use on the NEGenWeb Gosper County site by Heidi Wallace, a distant cousin.  Heidi says, "I have much more info on the Dingees and Hanlins, so perhaps you can make my email available for people to write with inquiries."  To contact Heidi just click on her name above.

Charles Richard Dowler was the son of Isaac Jordan & Adaline "Addie" (Dingee) Dowler. Charles grew up in Elwood, Gosper County, Nebraska, and several of his poems are about his pioneer childhood, with references of other people in the area (mostly the Hanlins).


"Hot Dogs"

I’d like to go back to an old fashioned farm, where the

hens hid their nests in the hay in the barn.

Where the cream on the mild was as thick as your thumb,

and you ate till your belly was tight as a drum.

Where a skillet of ham and a half dozen eggs gave a

feller the strength to stand on his legs.

But now they are riding all over the farm, in a greasy

old tractor they park in the barn.

The dogs ate the horses, milk comes in a can, if they have

any hens they lay where they can.

From a barn full of horses and a good clover hay, came a

fragrance that farmers aren’t getting today.

Let ‘em keep their old farm, with its tractor and jeep,

that they ride into town for a hot dog to eat.

 

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"Go Fishing"

If there’s a man who you must know is a hundred per-cent

            before you go in a deal with him where all depends

            that he’s a man who will carry his end, just take

            him away on a fishing trip, and you’ll never regret

            you took my tip.

Just he and you, and no one else, to make the camps and

            get the wood and carry the water, and cook the

food, and tend the stock, as must be done, on a

pack in trip, come storm or sun.

When you get home you will know your man is a hundred

            per-cent, or a tinker’s damn.

 

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Eager Beaver

 

Oh give me a shove, a pick and a pan

  With some virgin gravel near at hand,

Where nuggets lay on the hard bed rock

  In crevices deep and chuck a-block.

When your spirits are low and the world looks dark

  An ounce in the pan will kindle the spark.

Your eyes will glow with a miner’s gleam

  As you scrape the nuggets from the widening seam.

So give me a shovel, a pick and a pan,

  I want to go out and try my hand,

Where the gravel is shallow and the water low,

  And I’ll work like a beaver for I need the dough.

 

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Dreams of Long Ago

 

When I dream back to childhood on wild Nebraska plains,

            again I see the prairies, and smell them after rains.

In springtime in the canyons when wild plums were in

            bloom their fragrance was as dainty as bridal veils

            in June.

The buffalo had vanished and only bones remained, we

            gathered them and sold them instead of hay or

grain.

Their bony skulls, with vacant eyes and horns as black as

            night, lay bleaching in the summer sun, ‘twas not a

            pretty sight.

And there were Indian camp grounds as any one could

            see, with broken bows and arrow heads, just

waiting there for me.

But in that awful winter of eighteen eighty-one, the

            blizzards came like week ends, we seldom saw the

            sun.

Today the roaring tractor is heard on every hand, and

I am very far away, and older yet than Ann.*

 

(*Ann is believed to be Ann Dingee, Charles’ aunt, my g-g-grandmother--HW)

 

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“On Highway 99”

 

It happened to a drummer who picked up a lady

            thumber

On a scorching day in Summer on

            Highway 99.

 

He had hardly reached the

            Valley

‘Till he saw a roadside Sally

Madly waving with her thumb.

 

As I said, ‘twas the summer

And hotter than down under

And he a lonely drummer on

            Highway 99.

 

Now this drummer, he was snappy,

But he liked to make folks

            happy,

So he couldn’t pass a lady in

            distress,

 

So he braked his shining fliver

And took her all a-quiver for a

Ride to old Kern River on

            Highway 99.

 

Then he drove away sedately,

But he saw that she was shapely

With a leg that filled her stocking from

            within.

 

But her stocking had a runner,

Otherwise she was a stunner,

And he felt that socking

            runner

Was the place he should begin.

 

So he told his thumbing rider

As he sat right there beside

            her

He was selling nylon stockings

            to the trade.

 

That he had a case of samples

That would fit her shapely ankles,

But he didn’t get to say another

            word.

 

For a six gun in his belly changed

            his mind from sex to jelly, as

He braked the car and opened up

            the door.

 

It happened to a drummer who

            picked up a lady thumber

On a scorching day in summer

On Highway 99.

 

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Whistles

When I was a kid and was little

  I dearly loved whistles and trains,

But as long as I live I will never forgive the diesels

  Now pulling the trains.

Then later we moved to the Rockies

  Where rail-roads were all narrow gauge,

Their building was something stupendous,

  A marvel, in that day and age.

So, I, a man in the making, was thrilled at sight of the trains,

  And awed at the lift of the mountains

High up to the crest of the range.

The trains appeared to be crawling

  As they rounded the face of a cliff

Or drove through a hole in a mountain

  Like a rabbit pursued by a swift.

No matter the state of their motion

  Their whistles seemed never to still,

A warning to game and to people,

  Get out of the way or get killed.

Oh, the roar of a train in the mountains,

  The grind on flanges and brakes,

The head-lights gleam, the hissing of steam,

  And the whistles the engine makes.

Yes, those were the days in the mountains

  I got a continuous thrill

As I listened to screams of the whistle

  As men in the making will.

There were trains that ran in the night time,

  Their whistles were mournful and sad

As they echoed around in the mountains

  Like a Banshee that must have gone mad.

The trains that ran in the day time

  They surely did something to me

For they set me afire with a burning desire

  To hog-head the old twenty-three.

Now the whistles have gone from the Rockies,

  The days of the railways are done,

No longer will Casey and Murphy

  Go out on the Teluride run.

Again I dream of my childhood

  And how I loved whistles and trains,

When the engines came snorting like hell was aborting,

  And the whistles froze blood in my veins.

 

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Suicide

On Yucca Flats where no one lives

  They burst the bombs that science gives

To man, as his last great heritage.

 

When science cracked the atom

  And saw its mighty power,

The end of man was then in sight,

  Could come at any hour.

 

Had science kept their secret

  ‘Til man was civilized,

This mighty power that makes us cower

  Would then be utilized.

 

But mankind is not civilized,

  His scruples nearly nil,

When he feels provocation

  He’s ready then to kill.

 

Oh, foolish man, for in your hand,

  Cold science placed the bomb,

A power that only God should have,

  Or who could understand.

 

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To C. J. H.”*
(*Charles Hanlin)

Old rocking chair has got him, and he has lost his wind.

            yet he had always seemed to me the place where

            wind begins.

 

The Navy’s sure to miss him, for he’ll be there no more,

            to patch up their short circuits, as he did in days

of yore.

 

The planes he used to love to ride, now he will ride no

            more, for he’ll have lots and lots of time to thumb

            the country o’er.

 

He can’t stay long at any place, six weeks, he says, no

            more, he seems to be determined, he won’t become a bore.

 

And as he dozes in the sun in his old rocking chair, he’ll

            dream of days of long ago, he’ll dream them o’er

            and o’er.

 

So welcome to the leisure set who now can work no more,

            let others do the thousand things that you once did

            before.

 

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“Hot Winds”

 

I’m dreaming tonight of the long ago when I followed the

            plow to the end of the row.

Then around and around, from sun to sun, with little to

            show for the work I had done.

For a round was a mile, and the horses were slow when

            the days were hot and their spirits were low.

So we plowed for wheat, and listed for corn, and the days

            grew long as Spring wore on.

But rains had come and things looked fine, and we might

            have a crop, come harvest time.

Then up from the south, three days of wind that would

            curl your hair and blister your skin, and blasted

            our hopes of grain in the bin.

Those were the days I would like to forget, but they keep

            coming back to devil me yet.

 

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The Yoke


WAKE UP, AMERICA! the time’s at hand when every

            man must understand, that Commies aim to kill

            and rule, they’d make of us their slaves and tools.

Their acts are known in many lands, oppression, torture,

            bloody hands, unknown since the days of Gen-ghis

            Khan.

A rifle butt caves in your door, they drag you out, you’re

            seen no more.

Our love of peace, and hate of war, is known to Commies

            near and far.

They strike in places far away where we must stand, or

            comes the day they’ll rule the world, and us at

bay.

And then, TOO LATE, we take a stand surrounded by a

billion hands, each reaching for a throat to choke,

we trade our freedom for a yoke.

 

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The Soddy

 

I was thinking of the soddy,

  On the homestead long ago,

When Nebraska was young and I was young

  And the days were long and slow.

 

No alarm clock then, just a rooster and hen,

  But lordy how he could crow.

 

Up with the crow of the rooster,

  Up and away to the barn,

Feed ‘em and curry and harness,

  Got to start plowing the corn.

 

Wash and eat, then back on your feet,

  Milk the cows and harvest the wheat,

Nothing to do but work and eat.

 

Father would shoulder his cradle

  And away to the yellowed grain,

Cut it and bind it and shock it,

  Ahead of the coming rain.

 

How well I remember the soddys

  In the days of long ago,

Some had a floor, a window and door,

  Yet others there were with none.

 

Some had roofs that were rain proof,

  Others admitted the sun,

All were warm in winter,

   Cool when summer begun.

 

Flies and heat and salted meat,

  That was Nebraska in ’81.

 

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On The Go

 

Two Frescoln* gals are good to know, for they are always

            on the go.

In mountains tall, or deserts low, are places they are sure

to go.

It seems they’ve found Aladdin’s lamp and carried it right

            into camp.

Most people I have ever known must pay their way when

they would roam.

I seems the Mabbotts have a hook in Uncle Sam’s fat

            pocket-book, that pays the way when they would

roam, to Africa, or maybe Nome.

No matter where they’re set to go, he pays the way,

            puts up the dough.

the Pelletiers are on the go, from desert heat to mountain

            snow and now they’re off to Mexico.

Their source of revenue unknown perhaps a Fort Knox of

            their own.

They operate a private train, that keeps them snug in

            snow or rain, an engine and a dining car, with

            this the couple travel far.

They thought ahead, these Frescoln gals, for better days

            in, after while.

No kids have they to cramp their style as they rush on

            for mile on mile.

I am not jealous, that I know, for I am with them as they

            go to Africa and Mexico.

They’ll never know that I am there, and if they did they

            wouldn’t care.

 

*note says the “gals” are Mabel and Alice Mar…y (can’t read all of last name)

 

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“Leaves”

 

How like the leaves are you and me,

Like leaves upon a living tree,

 

For we like leaves must fall to earth

  And hope for Heaven and a berth.

 

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Sons of the Pioneers

 

An old man sat in his chair in the sun, and thought of his

            life since it begun, just eighty short years ago.

And he thought far back for a hundred years  when the

            country went wild with hopes and fears of gold

            in the farthest west.

Of wagon trains across the plains and over the mountains

            cold, in hopes that at last they’d get paid for the

            past with a bushel of virgin gold.

When a screaming jet flew overhead he thought of war

            being fought afar, in the land of the frozen dead.

Again he though of his life as a child, when his father’s

            home was miles and miles from the nearest living

man.

Today a kid on those self same plains can ride a tractor

            and grow the grains where buffalo left their last

            remains, not many short years ago.

The men who ride the tractors today and till the soil the

            easy way, can hardly guess of the pioneers who

            opened the west with blood and tears, not many

            long years ago.

 

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Corny

 

I want to go back where I was born,

Away back there in the land O’ corn.

Where the roosters crow in the early morn,

Time to get your britches on.

Then buck-wheat cakes and ham and eggs

Give a feller the strength to stand on his legs.

With a milk pail hung on either arm

An early trip to the big red barn.

The kickin’ cow would kick again

And you’d cuss her out with words of sin.

Feed the horses, clean the barn,

Harness ‘em up, we’re plowin’ corn.

Easter eggs I’d hid in the hay

Were often lost for many a day.

The harness room on a rainy day

Had a medley of smells to come your way.

Harness oil, leather and sweat,

And clover hay, I can’t forget.

Now eighty years have come and gone

Since last I went to the big red barn.

What would I see were I there today?

Nothing, they tell me, all rotted away.

Still I want to go back where I was born,

Away back there in the land O’ corn.

 

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Gone

 

Gone are the days of long ago, and gone are the ones

            I used to know.

Gone are the bones, the last remains of buffalo herds that

            roamed the plains, where tractors now and combines

            too, have shown the world what man can do.

Gone are our horses, Barney and John, with a greasy old

            tractor parked in the barn.

Gone are the geese, the ducks and the crane, I never

            will see them by thousands again.

Gone are the winds that burned the corn ‘til nothing was

            left to stow in the barn.

Gone are the days with prices so low there was no incentive

            to plow or to hoe.

Gone is the day when they hung me down, a hundred and

            twenty feet into the ground.

Gone are the preachers who loved to tell of the glorys

            of God and the terrors of hell.

Gone are the Quakers of Quakerville except a few who

            linger still.

Soon they will come to the end of the lane, and Quakerville

            only the ghost of a name.

 


 

Aftermath of War

 

I see a torso in a chair,

No legs nor arms hath he,

Nor eyes with which to see.

Is WAR the only way to LIBERTY?

 

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Below the Tracks

 

No flights of fancy flow from me, as they must do in poetry.

As all concerned are bound to know, one gets no learning

            from a hoe.

‘Tis true that wisdom sometimes flows from lowly ones

            whose books were hoes; but few of these I’ve

            ever known, they like myself, were mostly drones.

Then why, you ask, do I persist in writing stuff you may

            detest? Just let your pencil have a rest.

My answer isn’t very clear, the fact is I’m just sitting

here, too old to work, with naught to do, that’s

why I write these lines to you.

I mostly TRY to make them rhyme, so I’ll be different

            from my kind.

Now Hanlin thinks I missed the boat, instead of mine, I

            should have wrote.

He says that had I had a pen, when I was drilling wells

            for yen, I’d now be living on a hill, (and hate my

            neighbors fit to kill).

I’d rather live below the tracks than on the highest hill,

            I’ve always lived with common folks and I prefer

            them still.

 

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“The River’s Tale

 

As I sat alone on the river’s edge watching the men who

            ran the dredge, digging for flakes of gold.

The sun shone down and warmed my back and I slept the

            sleep of the old.

And as I slept by the river’s edge a voice came up from

            it’s gravely bed with a tale it wanted told.

So I tuned my ears to the river’s tale as it wandered on

            past hill and vale down to the open sea.

The river’s voice was feeble and old, but the tale it had

            and wanted told came clearly up to me.

The river, it said had had its birth in the dim dark past

            of a frozen earth, millions of years ago.

And then at last for reasons unknown the earth came

            under a broiling sun, and the waters begun to

            flow.

For thousands of years the ice pack held while its waters

            ground, and dug, and delved to dig the channel

            deep.

No man today can even guess at the havoc wrought as

            the waters pressed, onward on to the sea.

With power beyond the mind of man the waters ground

            the rock to sand, freeing the golden sands.

Had nature stored the gold she freed, then man would

            have no further need for gold for untold time to

            come.

But the river was wild, and cold and deep, and its waters

            had such an awful sweep that they carried the

            golden sands away, down to the greedy sea.

And that is the tale the river told to an old, old man

            who had mined for gold in the river now nearly

            dry.

 

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The Mother Lode

 

 

I love to leave the ocean fog and head for the Mother Lode.

Where skies are blue the whole day through and never a sign of smog.

On the sunny hills of the Mother Lode where gold was King, and

            Black Bart rode.

I love to linger and ponder well, the men and women who went through

            hell to get to the Mother Lode

BUT THAT WAS A HUNDRED YEARS AGO

And yet today, if you pass that way, and really want to see,

There are sights to be had, some good, some bad, but they all bring dreams

            to me.

Buildings of stone with doors of iron to guard their wealth from the

            robber bands that plundered the Mother Lode.

Second Garote, and hang-man’s tree, where they  hanged

            them high that all may see, now dead these many years.

Work of their hands may still be seen in every creek and gulch and stream

In the mountains of stones they had to move to reach the golden sands.

As I slept today by the river’s edge I dreamed of the miners, long since

            dead, as they slaved for the river’s gold.

But the roar of a jet low over-head brought me up with a start from my

            sandy bed,

And I saw I had dreamed the day away, and thanked my lucky stars.

 

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Sonora

 

In the foot-hills of Sierra, there’s a city dear to me,

  A charming little city that you must surely see.

 

It’s cradled in a valley where a hundred years ago

  You’d find a forty-niner most any place you’d go.

Today, no bearded miners with shovels on their backs,

  Go plodding down the sidewalks, nor are there miners’ shacks.

 

On hill-sides clad with verdure are costly modern homes

  And the owners wouldn’t trade them for castles built in Rome.

 

It’s a gate-way to a paradise where many tourists go

  To spend a grand vacation up near the virgin snow.

 

So come and see Sonora, you’ll come and come again,

  Its charms are seldom equaled in this lovely mountain land.

 

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King Midas

 

King Midas sat on his golden throne but couldn’t call his soul his own.

‘Twas either too hot or else too cold, so he got no joys from his heaps of gold.

He wanted a place where the summers were warm and the winters cool with lots of charm.

His telescope was of purest gold, so he looked at the stars but they looked cold.

He looked at the moon with its craters deep but not a tree on its mountains steep.

Then he turned his scope on the Mother Lode and saw he had found a Kin’s abode.

He traveled the lode from end to end, and his golden wand would dip and bend.

So he builded a castle of burnished gold; but that was back in the days of old.

Then came a meteor, white and hot that melted the castle nor marked the spot.

So the Mother Lode is rich today from the Midas castle that melted away.

 

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Grandma Moses

 

When grandma Moses paints a scene

Her trees are nearly always green.

Now grandpa Dowler (meaning me),

Would like his verses all to be

As green as grandma Moses trees. She caters to the human eye

With pictures people rush to buy;

While I attempt to versify

A picture for the mental eye.

While grandma Moses garners wealth

My verses mildew on the shelf.

 

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Beauty

 

There’s beauty in a maiden’s cheeks, and beauty in her eyes,

  but greater beauty I have seen in the glory of the skies.

I think no greater beauty can come to human eyes, than the red and gold of sunset,

  when nature paints the skies.

 

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Rain

 

Three days of badly needed rain and I am ready to complain.

Our patio is sopping wet and staying in gives me to fret.

The basement’s filling up with rain, the pump won’t work, there’s no drain.

My sinus drips, and I ca-choo, there’s nothing much that Doc can do.

I tried consoling in a bar but I got tighter by the hour.

I started home, then came a shower, So I took refuge in a bar.

The jail is handy, call me there, it’s clearing now, the night is fair.

 

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Of Pioneers

 

Now I am very, very old, and like most oldsters do,

I’m living mostly in the past, what else is there to do?

Again I seem a boy of eight and see as I saw then

The prairie stretching on and on, there seems to be no end.

Again I stand on virgin land where not so long ago

The whites had run the Indians off, and kill’d the buffalo.

The buffalo were last to go, yet they’d not long been gone,

Their bones lay bleaching where they fell before some hunter’s gun.

And so my father set his stakes and plow’d a furrow ‘round

That all might see that only he had filed upon that ground.

By fall he’d built a soddy house and a soddy barn as well,

So we were set for winter (if everything went well).

Then came the awful winter of 80-81,

The blizzards came like weekends, we seldom saw the sun.

A great fall rain had washed away the hay he’d made for winter,

And so the cattle had no feed, nor had the horses either.

But father solved the problem, tough it was hard and slow,

He shoveled off the shallow spots to the grass that lay below.

We had no well for water, the stock must lick the snow,

To get some water for the house my mother melted snow.

There seems no place for me to stop, the tale goes on and on

In the trials and tribulations in the fight to win a home.

But now the pioneers are gone and with them went the west,

To ride a tractor where they walked, is farming at its best.

 

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