IN THE BEGINNING, AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD #24
It began with my mama; she was just a young girl,
Who’d decided on teaching; she’d give it a whirl;
After college in Dayton, her degree was the best,
She thought she would teach at a school in the West;
She went to Nebraska, to a place called Cutler’s Park
Where her brother had settled, when he’d gone on a lark
There her brother bought himself land and got him a bride,
And he tilled and he toiled with ingrained-farmer pride.
With a town come a church and a school on the prairie;
And Mama was teacher and head of the library;
And a one-room-classroom became Mama’s domain,
With grades one through eight and children to train.
Two of the students, were boys, six and eight,
Luke and George, who never came late—
Their father delivered them right to the door,
And quickly departed, but return right at four.
Soon Mama learned that their mother had died
When Luke was born; Mama heard this and cried.
And soon she devised ways to give them a bit
Of motherly love; she had lots of it.
Of course, it was papa, who’d fathered those boys,
Seeing mama each day became one of his joys;
But he kept to himself and she couldn’t know
Of the love that he had but was too shy to let her know
And it wasn’t until his sons spoke so much
about their good school marm
that he learned of her touch;
eventually, mama and papa were wed,
Instead of bridesmaids, Luke and George stood in their stead.
And when I was born, I had two older brothers,
Never knowing mama’s wasn’t their mother
Papa was a man of very few words;
He believed in hard work and
Got up with the birds;
His first wife was a girl
Who’d run off from her church
But she died birthing Luke,
Leaving Pa in the lurch.
So Pa ran his farm and his little boys too,
With an iron fist—what else could he do?
A woman in town showed my Pa how to cook,
And to help him along, she gave him a book;
Once a week he took their laundry to town,
To a Chinese laundry, the best one around,
The maidens in town had their eyes on my pa,
But he only noticed the school marm, my ma;
For she loved his children long before him,
And when she married, it wasn’t a whim—
She went on school teaching til I came along,
And then she stayed home, where she felt she belonged.
SANDRA LEE SMITH
ORIGINALLY POSTED JANUARY 10 2012
UPDATED OCTOBER 13, 2018 ( with a little help from my friend)