Where I’m From
I was intrigued when I read about Cora over at Hidden Riches from Secret Places. I loved learning about her using a structure that Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience posted this past week. Cora said she re-posted her version after Ann Voskamp posted hers. Both posts are based on an adaptation by Levi Romero of a poem entitled Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon. Using the same adaptation, I am writing mine. I hope it helps you know me better.
I am from farmers and a man who always wanted to farm, but war, death and circumstances got in his way.
Instead I am from bread baskets, newspapers and a mail truck parked in the driveway of my childhood home.
I am from the sweltering, freezing attic bedroom I shared with my younger sister where I read her the Bible every morning and quizzed her every evening.
I am from dusting venetian blinds, running newspapers every Sunday morning and fish sticks every Friday (not because I was Catholic, but because my Dad loved them).
I am from toasting marshmallows over a campfire in the woods and swimming in the creek every day all summer long.
I am from birch trees and apple trees whose tent caterpillars needed burned out every summer and a catalpa tree whose long dark pods are forever imprinted in my memory.
I am from sand-tart cookies, hog maw, schnitz un gnepp, saurkraut and pork, but no speaking German, “We are Americans!”
I am from Elsie Edna and James Roy; Anna Louise and Samuel Howell. Farmers all.
I am also from hard times and strong women who lost their men early and raised their children alone in the midst of incredible odds. My father is the middle son below.
I am from a grandmother who read to me every night before tucking me into bed and said, “Good night, Itty Bit.”
I am from listening to 45 rpm records with my aunt who was 15 years older than I and from eating warm tomatoes and corn right in the middle of sunny fields.
I am from riding on the necks of mother sows holding onto their ears after my grandmother called them loudly for their “slop”.
I am from hillbilly music and Christmas carols sung around my grandmother’s piano. I am from firecrackers every fourth of July on the sidewalk.
I am from Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dutch and German stoicism, determination and pride.
I am from Elsie Edna who had just had her 15th child and her husband died of blood poisoning from a rusty corn husker before the age of antibiotics. He worked as a hired hand for his brother and rented a house from the same.
With her husband dead, Elsie Edna and her children were no good to the brother-in-law so he told them to leave.
My grandmother took the bus into town, rented a house there and raised her children by herself by baking, cleaning and some wages from her oldest sons earned until…
the sons went off to war. (This next picture is not of my grandmother. I took it off http://www.old-photos.blogspot.com, but it is what she probably looked like on any given day.)
My last memory of my grandmother (then in her 80’s) is her sitting at her kitchen table covered with a dozen pies (Having baked for 15 children, hired hands and passers-by all her life would say, “Who can make just one pie?”) to give to anyone who would visit that day. With 72 grandchildren someone would surely come to visit.
I come from the two strongest women I will ever know. I have family photos in albums, stories typed and bound into an archival book and precious memories stored in the synapses of my brain because this is where I am from and I don’t ever want to forget it. God bless you, Elsie and Anna!
Thanks for reading,