The poem to be featured in this post was written by me on July 17th, 1989.
Doug Johnson, whom I mentioned in a much earlier post, had a radio show on which I was one of the regular callers. (In fact, Doug's crew had taped a couple/three seconds of us both laughing almost uncontrollably as a promo!)
It was on one of Doug's shows that a lady named Louise Robertson called in on his "open line" -- July 7th -- talking about the fact that her home town of Orange Grove was no longer there.
What happened? Was it a hurricane?
No. No, it was construction for Interstate 10, which was going to bypass her little town (I want to say in Mississippi) and thereby cut off any long-distance traveler business that had heretofore come their way.
Louise was lamenting the fact that much of the business real estate in her small town had been bought up by the state, and she was afraid that her community -- as she had long known it -- was disappearing.
I was so moved by her call that -- ten days later -- I still was unable to rid myself of the sadness I felt until I had written and subsequently delivered the poem you are about to read.
I didn't want to call Doug's show. I didn't want to be a depressing 'live' caller.
I met Joe Krath, one of Doug's producers at the time, at a restaurant nearby to hand him my poem. I said, "Listen, Joe, I don't need to have Doug read this on the air. Is there any way he could get it to Louise?"
He gave me a big hug and said that he would see what he could do.
Well, I listened to Doug's show later ... a fellow named 'Dan', who "listens from his office", he said, called in to wish Louise a "Happy birthday!" (He'd marked his calendar. I guess that date had loomed large in my memory banks, as well!)
Doug seemed darned-near flabbergasted at Dan's call, and then proceeded to read my poem over the air, calling me "one of our family".
Home is where the heart is, memories reign,
People are familiar, friends remain.
Home is a feeling of security,
Of being wanted -- you & me.
Home is a place that used to be but is no more,
Where the lack thereof cuts through to the core.
The streets are empty --there is no town!
Where have all the families gone?
I remember chldren running on the way to school,
And laughing as they shouted, "April Fool!"
I remember parades and trips to the shore
To have picnics and see fireworks galore.
My years are too many, perhaps, you see,
But surely there's more living left in me!
This poem was written for Louise Robertson on her 84th birthday, 7/17/89. When I wrote it I said that she "most certainly has a bunch more living to do!"
Lord love us! She'd be well over 100 years old now.
Sorry I missed the anniversary of your birth this year, Louise. Happy birthday!