Sunday, November 29, 2009


EDITOR'S NOTE: To the best of my knowledge, my sweet, very proper mother never owned a pair of blue jeans. In fact, I don't even recall seeing her in slacks till she was over 70 years old and "pantsuits" became the rage. Not so the younger generation; although girls weren't allowed to wear jeans or slacks to my school, most of us made a beeline for our $5.99 Levis we'd bought from the JCPenney catalog the minute we left the schoolyard gate.

They used to call 'em overalls,
But now they call 'em jeans:
Worn by women everywhere,
From farmerettes to queens.

It's best to fit 'em proper,
And lots of women do.
But some will wear 'em anyhow
Who really oughtn't to.

Some have swivel movement
And wobble to and fro.
Some sort of jiggle up and down
While others come and go.

A few are little butterballs,
No bigger than a minute.
Some fit like a burlap sack
That ain't got nothin' in it.

Here and there, I see a pair
That, viewing from the back,
Weave like a little blue caboose
About to jump the track!

I'm not the one to disapprove
Of a woman wearing jeans --
If, as a feller says, the end
Will justify the means!

--Autumn Acres (1982)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Editor's note: Although many of dad's poems focus on growing older and celebrating the past, he never tried to live in it. His credo -- always -- was to do the best he could today and then look forward to doing it again tomorrow.

Wouldn't it be wonderful, wouldn't it be fine
If we could grow younger one day at a time,
If we could discover a way to erase
The exactions of age at a gradual pace,
And instead of degression in mortal decay
Reverse it and go in the opposite way?

Each wonderful morning would bring a surprise,
New color to cheeks, new sparkle to eyes;
We'd see in this process of human repair
The pigment come back into silvery hair,
And wrinkles would fade and afflictions would go
As the flame of our youth would rekindle and glow.

As winter gives way to the coming of spring,
And a young man's fancy and that sort of thing,
And the birds and the bees are exuberant too,
Doing whatever it is that they do.
So the winter of life would wane, don't you see,
And spring would come back like it used to be!

As vigor returned at a quickening rate,
I'd do lots of things that I can't do of late;
I think I'd be able to recognize more
Opportunities now than I did before--
Between you and me, in reminiscing, I've found
There's a few things I missed on the first time around!

If Science should ever figure it out --
This juvenescence I'm talking about,
I'll kick up my heels and have bushels of fun.
I'll dare to do things that I never have done.
I'll be such a swinger, to tell you the truth,
That I'll probably die from the rigors of youth!

--Down Country Roads (1970)

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Editor's note: My wonderful mother had an interesting habit: She always had a glass of Coca-Cola at the ready. First thing in the morning, she'd pour some over ice and set it on the kitchen sink. As she cooked our family's requisite three squares a day and cleaned up afterward, she'd stop every once in a while to take a sip or two. In the evening, assuming she had a few minutes left over after doing her chores, she'd sit on the sofa (we called it a "davenport") to watch the 11 p.m. news. By then, her Coke wasn't much more than melted ice with a hint of light brown color, but woe be the person who suggested that she throw it out. When I started this blog, my cousin Judy told me that her favorite poem of my dad's had something to do with Coca-Cola. Judy, I hope this is the one you meant -- but even if it isn't, I sure do love all the memories it brings back!

Human faults and frailties,
There are none of us without,
And Lucy has a little one
I'll tell you all about.

She never uses alcohol,
And neither does she smoke,
But she beats the bugs a-fightin'
When it comes to drinkin' Coke!

I buy it by the gallon,
And she drinks it by the quart;
I guess she's got a hollow leg,
Or something of the sort.

I'll have to go and see the
Coca Cola folks, I think,
And run a pipe directly
To a faucet in our sink!

I don't complain about it
To her face, you understand--
She could get a little nasty
With that bottle in her hand!

But her idea of Heaven,
And this isn't any joke,
Would be a tiny island,
In an ocean full of Coke!

--Square Marbles (1978)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Editor's Note: Autumn Acres, published in 1982, mostly was composed "during the so-called Golden Years, when one has considerably more to look back on than to look forward to," dad wrote in the introduction. "If a reader, here or there, should happen to glean a grain or two of wheat from all the chaff and tares, so much the better!"

The Constitution guarantees
A right to you and me:
The right to speak out freely
Any time we disagree.

If you see things a different way
Than I do, that is fine.
For you have your opinion
Just the same as I have mine.

You and I may disagree
And often be divided,
For this event, the very first
Amendment has provided.

I can't deny your basic right
To speak without restrictions,
And you're as free as you can be
To stick to your convictions.

I cannot fail to keep in mind
This country is a free one.
If you must be a stupid ass,
You have the right to be one!

--Autumn Acres (1982)

Monday, November 16, 2009


Editor's note: A recurring theme throughout my father's poems is growing older. Sometimes, he took a philosophical tack; other times, as with this one, he traveled down a more humorous path.

When I was a young man of twenty or so
I was full of ambition and get up and go,
And I can remember, at age twenty-five
I was coasting along in overdrive.

So, into my thirties I sailed right along,
With a tiger in my tank, and my battery strong;
I had no trouble cruising in high,
Though I noticed the youngsters were passing me by.

But then, in my forties I began to slow --
I shifted to second, and then into low;
And then, in my fifties, the passing of years
Created a problem: I ran out of gears!

And now, though I'm able to carry my load
I don't care to race to the end of the road;
And that's why I travel in low gear today,
And choose to be shiftless the rest of the way!

--From Down Country Roads (1970)


Editor's note: Dad always tried to do the right thing, and he was forever doing it for other folks as well as our own family. Perhaps this poem explains why.

A pilgrim came to Heaven's gate,
We'll call him Richard Roe;
I'd say, an average sort of guy,
As average people go.

Mr. Roe felt confident
He had it in the bag,
But when they opened up the book
It seems he hit a snag!

St. Peter said, "It makes me sad,
Your entrance to deny,
But under our admission rules,
You fail to qualify."

He said, "This really doesn't show
You've been a wicked sort;
But yet, when all is totaled up,
It has you falling short.

"No evil deed, or deadly sin
Appears, year after year;
That you have led an honest life
Has been recorded here.

"It names the wrongs you didn't do,
But here's the catch, my son:
This book contains an awesome list
Of things you should have done!

--Eighty After Eighty (1995)

Sunday, November 15, 2009


EDITOR'S NOTE: Even though country people live, look and act much like their city cousins, there's "just something" about rural life that's considerably different. "It's hard to define, but it's there," dad wrote in Down Country Roads. "Maybe it's the clean, fresh air; maybe it's the lack of confinement; perhaps the cooing of doves on a dewy morning or the clear, starry skies on a winter evening: Perhaps a thousand other factors all put together."

I know exactly what he means. Although I couldn't wait to leave the farm and country life and head off to college -- never to return on a permanent basis -- the country remains the place I call "home" even though I've lived in a city nearly 300 miles away for close to 50 years. No, I don't want to go back there to live, but every time I visit I love the smells of fresh-mowed hay, the golden cornfields ripe for harvest and land, lots of land, with nary a billboard in sight. This poem sums it all up nicely.

Not in your mammoth cities,
Nor in your fine abodes,
Will you find the kind of people
That you meet down country roads.

Folks are more contented there,
And they seem to understand
There's a special blessing comes
From livin' closer to the land.

There's an undenyin' power
Of Mother Nature to enthrall,
And they feel the livin' presence
Of the Master of it all.

There's a special sort of comfort
Seems to filter thru the air,
And a special sort of greeting
When you meet a neighbor there.

Oh, I know there's other places
Where a welcome hand extends,
But down the country roads is where
I've found my dearest friends!

--Down Country Roads (1970)

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Note: This poem is among my all-time favorites, in part because it represents how my dad lived his life.

There's a long, long path a-winding
All along the way I've come,
Tho I'll never be returning
Back to where I started from;
But others who may follow
Will perhaps discover where
I've gone along before them
And left my foot prints there.

I remember, in the springtime,
My stride was firm and strong;
My foot steps never faltered,
As I hurried right along.
There were places where I tarried,
And where I seemed to stray.
But then I straightened out again,
And proceeded on my way.

My earnest hope is others may
See where I've traveled thru,
And left some marks to follow,
And a few impressions too;
Thru the burning sands of summer,
And across the winter snow,
I'd like to leave behind me
Some foot prints when I go.

The trail is growing narrow--
Where it ends they'll put a stone;
But I hope to be remembered
Not because of that alone.
Descending down the mountainside
Into the vale below,
I'd like to leave behind me
Some foot prints when I go.

--From Down Country Roads (1970)