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C. R. Dowler
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).
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.
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.
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.
“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
The buffalo had vanished and only bones remained, we
gathered them and sold them instead of hay or
Their bony skulls, with vacant eyes and horns as black as
night, lay bleaching in the summer sun, ‘twas not a
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
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)
“On Highway 99”
It happened to a drummer who picked up a lady
On a scorching day in Summer on
He had hardly reached the
‘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
Now this drummer, he was snappy,
But he liked to make folks
So he couldn’t pass a lady in
So he braked his shining fliver
And took her all a-quiver for a
Ride to old Kern River on
Then he drove away sedately,
But he saw that she was shapely
With a leg that filled her stocking from
But her stocking had a runner,
Otherwise she was a stunner,
And he felt that socking
Was the place he should begin.
So he told his thumbing rider
As he sat right there beside
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
For a six gun in his belly changed
his mind from sex to jelly, as
He braked the car and opened up
It happened to a drummer who
picked up a lady thumber
On a scorching day in summer
On Highway 99.
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.
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.
“To C. J. H.”*
Old rocking chair has got him, and he has lost his wind.
yet he had always seemed to me the place where
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
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
So welcome to the leisure set who now can work no more,
let others do the thousand things that you once did
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.
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
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
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.
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.
“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
It seems they’ve found Aladdin’s lamp and carried it right
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
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
*note says the “gals” are Mabel and Alice Mar…y (can’t read all of last name)
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.
“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
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.
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.
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
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?
“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
“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
For thousands of years the ice pack held while its waters
ground, and dug, and delved to dig the channel
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
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
“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
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
And I saw I had dreamed the day away, and thanked my lucky stars.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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