Sunday, December 27, 2009


Editor's note: Dad was practical almost to a fault. He had little interest in trinkets and gadgets unless they served a real purpose; why get a color TV when the black-and-white one was working just fine? Clearly, he enjoyed a joke as much or more than anyone, but if he valued one characteristic above all else, it was plain old common sense.

Of all the human qualities
A person should possess,
A vibrant sense of humor
Would be number one, I guess.

It makes our journey smoother,
On a rough and stormy day,
Like shock absorbers help you
Over pot holes in your way.

Though we may have our troubles,
We can take them all in stride
If we have a sense of humor,
And can see the lighter side.

It's true, you can't take everything
As fun, for goodness sake!
But you can make a difference
By the attitude you take.

And other folks may benefit
By imitating you;
As goes the old-time saying,
"Monkey see, and monkey do!"

But I'll admit, in closing,
That it doesn't help a lot
To have a sense of humor,
If that's all the sense you've got!

--Hominy Grits (1986)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Editor's note: There's an old-time hymn titled "Brighten the Corner Where You Are" -- I remember my mother humming it quite often as she set about dusting the knick-knacks and cleaning up the breakfast dishes. I don't know if that's where Dad got the inspiration for this poem, but it sums up quite well his philosophy for living and gives us all something to think about during this holiday season.

You don't need a whole lot of money,
You don't have to travel afar;
You can brighten your own little corner
By helping wherever you are.

You'll never relieve all the heartaches
You encounter along the way,
But a smile, a word or a handshake
Might brighten somebody's day.

There's laughter that ought to be pealing,
And songs that ought to be sung,
Music that should be resounding,
And chimes that need to be rung;

Hearts that need to be brightened,
And hunger that needs to be fed,
Burdens that need to be lightened,
Kind words that ought to be said.

So, right in your own little corner,
You'll find there is plenty to do,
And the light that you bring to another
Has a way of reflecting on you!

--Autumn Acres (1982)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Editor's note: These days, long underwear is hard to find except at sporting goods shops; they remain somewhat of a necessity for hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Time was, though, when "longies with a trapdoor in the back" -- like shoes and maybe socks -- were hauled out when the air started getting nippy. Girls usually didn't partake in the first part of that tradition, but I do admit to grudgingly donning a pair of socks for the first time this year a couple of days ago when I woke up to see a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

When the autumn leaves have fallen,
And the corn is gathered in,
And the air is kinder frosty,
And the winter winds begin
To creep around the corners
Of the barn, and 'round about,
Then I deem it fit and proper
That I git my longies out.

It's a mighty cozy feeling,
As I slip 'em on again,
And I smell the cedar fragrance
Of the chest where they have been;
An' I fasten all the buttons
Down the front, an' don't fergit
To reach and find the other
In the back, an' button it!

Ol' winter, do your durndest:
Now your pesky sting is gone,
You can howl in baffled fury,
For I've got my longies on.
Oh, I may not be so stylish,
Bur I'm not about to care--
I'll be snug while others shiver
In their summer underwear!

--Autumn Acres (1982)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Editor's Note: In his younger days, Dad didn't let much grass grow under his feet when it came to traveling. Mention just about any state, and he'd been there. He spent time working at an advertising agency in New York City, and he was fond of recalling his days "punching cows" along the Rio Grande River in Texas. But through it all, he remained rooted in the Buckeye State -- and this poem is one reason he called Ohio his home sweet home.

Of places where they've traveled,
People like to brag and boast,
And tell us all about the food
That they enjoyed the most.

I've dined in New York restaurants,
With all their fine cuisines,
I've eaten Creole chicken
'Way down in New Orleans.

New Brunswick offers lobster,
And delicious steamer clams,
And there's nothing beats the flavor
Of those good Virginia hams.

There are lots of other places,
From my travels I recall,
But right here in Ohio
Is the place that beats 'em all.

And those fancy eating places,
Give me no desire to roam,
For there's none can offer better
Than the meals I get at home.

And there's something really special
At my favorite eating place,
For across our kitchen table
Is a very special face!

--Autumn Acres (1982)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Man is never perfect,
And, as far as I can see,
With all his warts and foibles,
He was never meant to be.

We all have had our moments,
And we all have seen a day
When scruples were forgotten,
And we went a bit astray.

Temptations come so often,
To the restless and the young;
They listen to the Devil,
And a little fling is flung!

I know it's human nature,
When our years begin to fade,
To think about our failings,
And the record we have made.

There'll be a day to settle,
And it comes to everyone;
We'll have to pay the fiddler
For the dancing we have done.

I'm tempted very seldom now,
My errant ways are few;
I walk the straight and narrow,
Like a person ought to do.

I guess I'm not too different
From any other sinner;
We skate with less abandon
Where the ice is getting thinner!

--The Buckeye Poet (1991)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Two monkeys sat in a coconut tree,
Observing the people below,
Who appeared to be in a frenzied state
As they scampered around to and fro.

The first monkey said, "I understand
They call it the race of the rat,
And I'll admit I couldn't suggest
A name more fitting than that!

"It's a pity how they struggle and scratch,
Even brother set against brother;
They choose up sides, and their leaders all
Make faces and growl at each other.

"As they study new ways of fighting their foe,
And the tension between them increases,
They've peopled around and found a way
To blow the whole world to pieces!

"Why they'd want to destroy themselves
Is an unexplainable riddle,
But what is really bothering me
Is we'll get caught in the middle!

"Their theory of evolution's absurd,
And isn't worth much of a fuss;
No self-respecting monkey'd believe
That they descended from us!"

--The Buckeye Poet (1991)

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Editor's Note: Dad derived an enormous amount of inspiration from my mother, on whom he based the "Lucy" in his poems (sometimes loosely, sometimes not). But for better or worse, they remained in it together for more than 60 years. This little ditty sums up the whole situation pretty well.

I have my favorite stations,
On radio and TV
But the one I listen to the most
Is W-I-F-E.

I hear it every morning,
And I hear it all day long;
No matter what the weather is,
It comes in loud and strong!

I never have to tune it in,
For that is automatic;
But I'll admit I often get
An awful lot of static!

I sometimes hear a lecture,
Or the latest local news,
And often chew my fingernails
While I listen to the blues.

I may complain, but I'll accept
The bitter with the sweet;
All in all, W-I-F-E
Is pretty hard to beat!

--Square Marbles (1978)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Editor's Note: When we first moved to the farmhouse where I spent most of my childhood years, it was in serious need of rehabilitation and had no indoor "facility." To make things more convenient for everyone, especially a third-grader who was afraid of anything that crawled or flew, my mother provided (and kept emptied) a chamber pot in one of the hallways. Needless to say, a bathroom was the second thing my dad installed in the house as they remodeled -- a wood-burning stove was the first.

We had no bathroom in our house
When I was just a lad.
Out back, we had a beaten path
That led to what we had.

One winter evening, Grandpa
Took a sudden notion, quite,
And made a quick departure
Out the door into the night.

A moment later, long and loud,
We heard the old man shout.
And everybody rushed to see
What the fuss was all about.

Halfway down the privy path,
There, in the lantern's glow,
Grandpa lay upon his back
Half buried in the snow.

It seems he hooked his chin upon
The clothing line as he sped.
It flipped him for a loop-the-loop
And stood him on his head.

To our relief, Grandpa declared
He wasn't hurt at all.
A lucky thing that bank of snow
Was there to break his fall.

His philosophic words belied
The frown upon his brow.
"Oh well," he said, "I don't suppose
I'd 'a' made it anyhow!"

--Autumn Acres (1982)

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)