What a host of changing experiences face us as we live out our
years here on earth. And one is almost amazed at the varied
interests embraced. One early spring day we had the delightful
surprise of having John Kuchenbecker of Appleton call on us. Here
was young man who already owned three steam engines A Case, a
Russell, and a A.W. Stevens.
To have a young person talk with such understanding about steam
propulsion was unusual. We much enjoyed his call. But in the back
of my mind a problem was brewing that defied being put off any
longer. There was something I had to do, and the propsect was far
The attic on the farm was our problem. It had an accumulation of
many years of living tucked away in its dusty boxes, dusty trunks,
and there were even a few things hung from the ceiling.
Everybody agreed that ‘it didn’t really bother anyone up
there’ but it was bothering me, for I knew it had to be done
sometime. Three years had gone by since we moved. The young couple
on the farm had every right to the space as the farm belongs to
But from the beginning I knew this dividing and sorting would
put a strain on mental processes. It is a day when what we think is
junk may be someone else’s prize. What had sentimental value
and what should be burned? I didn’t care to inherit any of my
own moths. I value the clothes in our new closets.
Armed with many empty boxes, a wet face mask to keep the musty
dust from spoiling all my spring and early summer, and a bunch of
cleaning equipment, I went to work. I knew the problem beforehand.
It was wear the mask and save some disastrous coughing spells and a
painfully throbbing head. The alternative was to wear my glasses
and no mask. It doesn’t work to try accomplishing anything
through a fog of breath steam. How could I both see and breathe?
Frankly, it got pretty bad. I have coughed for weeks, while asking
myself over and over, ‘Why do we save so much STUFF?’
But it wasn’t long before I knew. We can’t burn up all
our memories. As I worked the treasures began to come to light.
There were box after box of old time music. This was music which
had filled our house from the time I can first remember. How my
sisters and myself had sung these songs with all our youthful zest!
I knew that this had value so we picked it over carefully. I opened
my mouth even wider to vocalize about HOW YA GONNA KEEP EM DOWN ON
THE FARM and IT’S A LONG WAY TO TIPPERARY, and a dozen others.
There were even tattered scraps of songs I sang as a little girl,
something about a froggie going a’courtin, and apple blossom
There were pink felt baby shoes with tiny embroidered flowers on
the toes. I could feel for a moment again in my lonely arms the
warmth of the little one who had worn them so long ago. Shoe skates
didn’t all match up. They went to Goodwill along with several
boxes of clothing and a bag of shoes. The homemade costumes the
children had worn to school parties had to be burned. They were
Suddenly there appeared a postcard which Dan had sent from Youth
Camp. It had a short message with a misspelled word or two. I gave
it to his wife. She chuckled and tucked it happily away.
The letters from Paul and John, when they were in the army, came
to light. There was an epic card with these words scrawled across
it. in large letters – NINE MORE DAYS TO GO. HALLELUJAH! SEE YOU.
Virginia’s love letters from her husband Ken were stowed in
her bag of memories. By now I had sacks for everyone of our six. I
found some special dresses of the girls. I couldn’t throw these
away. I took them with us when we went to Racine for Easter Sunday.
Now May can do as she sees fit.
From the children who went away to school there were letters
telling of special days, how Jim met Phyllis, of Mary’s
hypochondriac roommate who wept on her shoulder when she got a low
mark. Oh! How the memories flooded in! Somehow they were too much
to grasp and almost crucial to remember. For you can not bring back
one moment, and the strength for coping with its activity is gone.
But the school programs, the band concerts, the ‘sings’
around the piano, the prayers uttered, were all relived in those
dusty fragments of the past.
What a struggle it was to have all six clean and neat on a
Sunday morning, and all be packed in the car ready for church. I
see the younger couples coming in now, their broods all shiny-faced
and so young, and we are just the two of us. But Oh! I am so
thankful it still is the two of us. So many come in alone.
And, of course, being a poet, when the muse moves me I have to
write a few lines for you. PANORAMA
I knew how I felt at age sixteen
Life had a glory tinted sheen
Eyes danced in wonder, pulses leapt
At all the prospects dreams had kept.
Love came at twenty. Oh, the thrill
Of sunbursts on my topmost hill!
Motherhood came, my cup spilled joy
Our love had brought a baby boy.
Thirty and forty I could face
Battling our brood throughout the race.
Fifty brought doubts that I was well
For now I ask you please – pray tell
How it affects one to grow old,
First are your feet a trifle cold?
Are you more tired every day
Trying to brush your age away?
How should one feel at sixty four,
Out of tune with a hurried score?
Wondering if at sixty five.
You’ll wake to find yourself alive?
Right there I think I’ll cease to probe
And sit me down and stop this globe
That holds my life, and now must bide
Whatever fills the other side.
I know it’s not the best poetry, but frankly after all that
I’m not in the best shape. The dust and a few tears gummed up
my life a bit. Guess my flues need some clear, clean water around
them again, and I could do with a head of fresh steam in my boiler.
But the daffodils are in blossom as I write, so summer lies ahead.
‘The best is yet to be,’ said some hopeful poet. ‘The
last for which the first is made.’ Along with no night there
will be no dust there. How many days I can’t say, but along
with John I will say, ‘HALLELUJAH!’