Traverse City Record-Eagle


August 15, 2011

Lifelines: Fair myth grew like grass

Today is the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II. I'm not going to share elders' poems on eyewitness accounts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombs. I have them, but my heart isn't there.

Jack Miller, a World War II POW, said, "The Japanese now are a lot different people than they were back then." When a few misguided leaders take over education institutions and information outlets, almost an entire population can be brainwashed in less than two decades.

Instead, I'm going to concentrate on county fairs, a magical midnight in 1956, and empathy for unfortunate critters. Last summer I gathered with a bunch of aging boys from my hometown. One of the guys had mentioned to the group earlier that he'd once met and kissed Patsy Cline.

By the time I showed up, his buddies had exaggerated a kiss into making out. Myth can grow like grass. When I asked Bob about his memory, his words stayed true to her. That touched me. She must have been quite a young woman. Two months after Patsy met Bob, she co-wrote the song "Stranger in My Arms." It makes you wonder.

"Carnival Ponies" was written before I was doing Elders Projects. The poem speaks for the little horses, because they don't have a voice.

Bob Blackledge (72)In Her Arms


I used to show cattle and sheep

at different fairs.

In 1956 I was at the Cadillac Fair.

Patsy Cline was singing that night.


It was the summer

between my junior and senior year.

I'd turned seventeen.


I was out in the livestock barn.

This young woman came walking

with her girlfriend

down between the animals.


She stopped and asked me

a whole bunch of questions,

and we talked about this and that.

I didn't recognize her.

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