The Ladies Page

COUNTRY ECHOES

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Brandon Wisconsin R R-2 Zip-53919

The bright-eyed smile that greeted us from the front cover of the July-August issue of IRON MEN ALBUM has stayed with me since the arrival of the magazine. Surely here was a man who had a great anticipation into age. Anna Mae's tribute is an excellent piece of writing. She covered, so well, the spirit of a dedicated man, with an earthly goal, yes, even several of them , and yet one knew upon meeting him, that eternal things were of the utmost importance to him. Elmer Ritzman was a WHOLE man, 'thoroughly furnished unto all good works.' II Timothy 3:17.

It has been my privilege to meet another lady of this caliber just two weeks ago. This year the National Federation of State Poetry Societies held their meeting at Edgewood College in Madison. Now there was only one drawback to my going. I do not enjoy driving in Madison. It took some extra prayer to give me the courage to start on my way. The traffic was not too heavy on that Wednesday. I was into the city within an hour and a half. But then I ran into a detour on Regent Street. A DETOUR IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THAT TRAFFIC! My heart sank into my shoes. I couldn't stop anywhere, for there was no place to stop. Finally I crawled into a parking lot to think, asked a man some questions, but he was from out of town as well. So, mustering all my courage I started back into the melee. If I could find University Avenue I thought I could find the place I was going.

Between a Standard Station attendant, and one old gentleman who was screaming his displeasure at the neighbor children, I finally found Edgewood College. What a peaceful place in the midst of bedlam! I drove into this haven of rest with a deep sigh of gratitude. I had been in Madison an hour before I reached my destination. I had begun to wonder why I had come. The next morning I woke up half sick. By that evening I was considering going home. I thought I would attack those city streets at five A.M. But by the time five A.M. arrived I was feeling better.

It was the evening of that day that I met Ruth Mary Fox, and I began to appreciate why all the struggle. Here was another saintly bright-eyed elderly person who literally took me under her wing. She gave me more encouragement on my poetic road than I have had for years. Here was a Professor Emeritus of Humanities who asked to buy one of my few remaining poetry books. Her comments were the most exhilarating thing I had encountered in years of toil and frustration.

This lovely lady of letters invited me to her apartment, and even showed me her library. I have an invitation to 'spend a day or two with her soon.' She has been the teacher of thirty thousand students at the University there and her knowledge of literature surely must be most comprehensive.

It was hard for me to leave my newfound friend. When I was packed, ready for trying to find my way home, we stood in the meeting room , hands clasped. We parted with these words ... 'Well, if we don't see each other here again on earth, we'll meet up in heaven.' I had found a new spiritual mother, and I went on my way rejoicing. Also I had learned how I could sneak out of town the 'back way' so to speak, and in no time at all we were in open country. I had a passenger who I was giving a lift, part way.

But my encounters with great older people had not come to an end. On Sunday evening my husband and I went to an Assembly of God church to hear an old friend and neighbor tell of her experiences as she spent eight years as a teacher of English in a Mission School in Nigeria. And she is going back, even though she is nearing seventy. By a sheer miracle her permission came through.

As she spoke to us she told of the blessing of gray hair. It seemed to make her trust worthy to those Africans she came in contact with. She had this same marvelous glow of peace and joy which is reflected from Elmer's face, and also the face of Ruth Mary Fox. Two wonderful people on this side of the Great Divide, one gone on to see the glories over there! How rich my life has been these past few weeks because of a glimpse of things to come.

Maude Florida, at The Assembly, had found her place there. Ruth Mary Fox was Catholic, Elmer's denomination is unknown to me, and we go to the Reformed Church in America. Yet across all of these human lines God's Spirit has stepped and given to me a great deal to go on. The way has grown so much clearer, and I find my faith restored in sumptuous measure. I treasure the few letters I have from Elmer. The line that stands out is in a letter written March 2, 1959. I quote. 'You may know I was a minister for 43 years and your kind of articles is my kind of preaching.' Unquote. From that day on, there was no stopping me on The Ladies' Page. A great man had given me a shot in the arm, and when the editor likes what you and your typewriter come up with, YOU are set.

Now I find the challenge before me 'Go and do thou likewise.' How many people there are in our world who need encouragement! How much these smiles, created in heaven, are needed on earth! And we have to remember, we can not be this kind of blessing, unless we go to the source of blessing for our supply. So the challenge is before all of us.

Without it we may fall flat on our faces.

This trio of friends has kept the challenge into the years when many people retire to sit down and relax, and consequently shrivel. It was then that they really blossomed forth in full glory. As a result I have been strengthened and rejuvenated by these contacts in the last two weeks.

Two weeks from now we put on the last wedding the family requires. As I contemplate all the hubbub of being the mother of the bride, plus a house full of guests, I can keep my sights beyond. Amidst the joy of glad reunions, and the beauty of young love finding fulfillment, I shall be able to say, 'The best is yet to be,' and really believe it.