Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 20, 2011

Lifelines: Friendship through poetry

By TERRY WOOTEN
Bard

---- — I'd like you to meet Mary Joseph, 97, from Onekama. Mrs. Joseph participated in the Brethren Elders Project, and was interviewed by Alexis Forsyth, 12. Mary Joseph was 12 years old 85 years ago.

Listening to these two girls sharing experiences, while transcribing the tapes, was an incredible experience. You can hear a delicate friendship blossoming. Near the end of the second interview, Alexis asks, "If you live to be 100 can I come to your birthday party?" Mary answers, "You're on the list."

Mary Joseph memorizes and recites poetry.

"My one older brother loved poetry," she said. "He taught me a lot about it. There are so many different kinds. When I was little, it wasn't a poem if it didn't rhyme. Now you don't have to do that anymore. It's like writing thoughts."

Before she left, Mrs. Joseph recited Joyce Kilmer's famous poem that starts out, "I think I shall never see/ A poem lovely as a tree "¦" Or as lovely as Mary Joseph, I might add.

Speaking of poetry and birthdays "¦ Stone Circle turned 28 last week. Actually, the boulders are older than calendars. Come and visit where poems and songs roam.

David

We moved to Michigan on the last day

of March.

My birthday is in May,

so I wasn't quite five.

 

Next morning mom opened the door

of our new house

and said, "Oh."

 

A little neighbor boy

named David was standing there.

Mother said, "Come in."

 

David was six years old.

That was the first time

I saw my future husband.

 

We became good friends

and walked places together,

and grew up together.

Pretty soon we took the car places.

 

We got married in our early twenties,

and stayed married seventy two years.

 

Our wedding was beautiful and simple.

It was twilight,

an evening service

with lots of candlelight in August.

 

It had been a very dry summer

and local flowers were all dead.

We bought a bouquet of roses

that were shipped in.

 

As we came out of the church

it started to rain hard,

but it was a nice reception.

We had a short honeymoon

at Interlochen.

 

We were best friends

with many wonderful romantic moments.

 

My beloved husband died

at ninety three.

David has been dead two years.

It's hard to lose

somebody you've been with for so long,

but you can get used to it.

 

We have two daughters and two sons,

eight grandsons,

three granddaughters,

twenty great grandchildren

and two great greats.

 

That's the way life goes

from one generation to the next

to the next.

Pacifist

I was born in 1914

in Pennsylvania

at the foot of a small mountain.

 

1914 was the first year

of World War I.

That was a long time ago.

 

We moved to Michigan

when I was almost five.

I've lived here ever since.

 

I had cousins who took part

in that war.

I have stories about World War I,

but don't dwell on them.

 

I don't believe in war.

I'm totally against war.

 

I remember the veterans.

One in particular

lived in Onekama on main street.

 

He was crippled

and couldn't talk quite straight,

or walk.

His hands were deformed

from the war.

 

He was lonely

and good natured.

When we passed along the street

we would stop to talk to him.

 

There were several other veterans

in the village.

One had his leg cut off.

That was scary for a little girl.

 

He was mad at the world.

Us girls kept our distance

or walked away.

 

Boys would taunt him,

call him, "Peg Leg,"

things like that.

 

If they taunted him too much,

he'd take his wooden leg off

and tell them if they didn't stop

he would beat them.

 

Course he only had one leg

to hop around on,

so he wasn't too dangerous.

 

I'm ninety seven years old

and have never lived through an era

when we were not involved in a war.

 

One of my best friends

I went to school with

was killed in World War II.

 

I've always wished

we'd not have another war.

It's a strong thought in me.

-- Terry Wooten