Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 3, 2011

Lifelines: A sweet poetry duet

Someone forgot to push the record button.

It was the first taped interview with Betty Bowden at Kingsley Middle School.

Mistakes happen when you're teaching kids how to record oral histories.

The next winter, the 21st Century site coordinator and I took three eighth-grade girls over to the Bowdens' home on a snowy day after school.

Betty had cheese, crackers and cider ready.

Her husband, Phil, joined us. The conversation and cassette tapes rolled. To this day that interview remains my favorite of all Elders Projects.

One of the girls, Kristina Woodworth, chose to write Betty's romance poems. I wrote Phil's side of the story.

It ended up a sweet little poetry duet. Kristina and the other two girls are now seniors. Betty and Phil are still "just kidding" around.

Phil "Pretty as a Rainbow Trout"

I remember her

when she was in grade school,

but we didn't know each other.

Then we became friends

in the same school.

We got started

at a dance in Summit.

I wasn't nervous

when I first asked her to dance,

and she wasn't either.

I drove a Chevy.

Dad was a mail carrier

and always had good cars.

I got to drive all the time.

While Betty was in college,

I went downstate

to Detroit and Pontiac

trying to get a job.

They'd ask me my age and say,

"We can't do it …"

There was a draft coming

so I volunteered.

Betty "Phil"

I always thought Phil was cute,

and he drove a nice car.

Our family had old broken down cars

you had to push to start.

Phil dressed well

with clothes from the store.

My clothes were homemade.

He was a cut above

the rest of the fellows,

and he was kind.

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