Saturday, January 24, 2015


By Beatrice M. Hanson

You can wear the style of the “twenty’s”
Drive in a Model T Ford,

Turn back the clock in romancing
By taking your girl to a ball.
You can learn to dance the “Charleston”
Make out like a love-sick Sheikh,
But the spirit of that time will elude you
For with age there is no repeats!

The gap in our generation is as
Yours will someday be –
When your children reach for
Recognition, in the growing up
Time of their years.
Each era is precious to oldsters
Who remember the glow of their youth,
Until finally the gaps blend together
To emerge in the History Books.
Where facts are duly recorded,
For the time, the Place, and the years.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Through all the years that we've been wed,
I've waved a banner over my head,
I’m younger!
It pleased me when a friend would sigh,
How come you married an older guy?
You’re so much younger.
The years sped by - the children gone.
My husband’s nearing sixty-one.
“Hurry up hurry up” he calls to me,
"I’m almost ready for Social Security"
But I can only shake my head,
The years are long before I get my check,
Because (darn it) I’m younger.
At sixty- five he’s at his ease,
Waits for his check, does as he pleases.
He smokes his pipe- and how he rages,
About the trips he’s taken with the Golden Agers.
But I can only bide my time,

And hope he’s here when I get mine,
Because (woe is me) I’m younger.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I have a cottage painted white,
To give me shelter from the night,
I own an acreage of land with
Rich black soil over golden sand.
I’ve cleared a garden plot for flowers,
To tend, in my leisure hours.
The maple spreads its pleasant shade,
For protection during the sunny days.
Soft breezes carry fragrant smells,
Of apple- blossom, lilac, and roses
Wondering where they will.
Of honey-suckle twisting above the door,
Or the aroma of grass cut the day before.
I trot a grandchild on each knee,
Who love to “roam the ranch” with me.
I own a dog - black, brown and fawn.
A pipe to smoke, the evening paper to rely on.
I’m blessed with innocence of mind,
That lets me sleep from nine to nine.
I think I’m the richest man alive,
To have so much at sixty-five. 


By Beatrice M. Hanson

My memories are like jewels
I keep locked in a mental box
Until the hours I’m most lonely
And reach for their luster and warmth.
Pearls, symbolic of the wedding dress,
Rich with creamy lace-
The white rose bouquet-
The glistening three-tiered cake.
Diamonds sparkle like the wine
We sipped with arms entwined
To pledge our life together and
Love forever be kept alive.
The Opals changing color
Like the fountain where happiness flowed
To make our lives the richest we had ever known.
But hidden in the corner,
Covered with remorse and woe
Lies the Ruby red as my lover’s blood

Shed on the battlefield of France
So many long years ago.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I wrote down all my troubles,
On one side of the page,
While on the opposite side,
The joys that filled my days.
I noticed there were spaces,
Where troubles added up,
It looked as though my failures,
Were enough to fill a cup.
Then suddenly the scales would turn,
I’d find to my relief
A Long list of blessings,
Were thrown right at my feet,
The balance sheet continued,
Through many many years,
The list of credits grew larger,
The failures disappeared,
Until I began to wonder,
If wisdom could be the cause,
By minimizing hatreds,
And magnifying loves!


By Beatrice M. Hanson

When I was young
I had a dream
I’d buy a house
And keep it clean,
With shining window panes for light.
A sofa to relax at night.
Ruffled curtains gaily draped,
A Welcome Mat prominently placed.
Perhaps a puppy frisking by-
A snoozing cat with languid eyes.
Zinnias and marigolds,
And all the roses I could hold.
Alas! This dream did not materialize for me,
I own a houseboat near the sea!
I’ve wondered with some mystification,
Why Mother Nature tosses out her
Lap full of seeds with such indiscretion.
Until I noticed with what splendor,

The earth rewords the lavish spender!


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The snow began falling
In the darkness of the night
Early morning looked out upon
A dazzling spread of soft-puffed white.
Not a ripple marred its smoothness
Not the serenity of its fall.

A world seemingly without life -
No growth, no movement, no sound.

Until I glanced upon my doorstep
Before the sun arose
To see a line of prints made
By the crooked twig-like claws
Of a tiny, feathered bird.

This creature in the world of white,
Made the difference
Between statues and life.

He had risen from his snowy tracks
To mount the clear cold air
Leaving his scratchy signature behind
To tell us he'd been there!


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Like true birds they’re flying
Down the Southern way,

Watching for the road-signs,
Resting for that day.

Each mile will bring them closer,
To the sun they love.
Like birds of a feather winging
The same route up above.
The change of air gives promise,
Of warm days ahead,
The breeze is softly stirring up,
Salt air from the ocean bed.

Throw off the woolen sweaters,
Relax and saunter forth!
To let the bright, golden sun,
Shine on the cold motorists

From the North.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I say I’m going hunting
As I take down my well-oiled gun
And don a scarlet cap and coat
I turn my car toward a mountain run.
But once away from eyes of man,
In the deep solitude of wood
My weapon drops by my side,
I’m not feeling like a hunter should.
The scurrying rabbits may have no fear,
Their furry coats will not be stained
By their own blood by me.
Two partridges stand close beside
The water’s edge.
A perfect shot, if their deaths be worth
The price.
Far better that I watch their flight
From fear and harm, and keep my conscience clear.
As I sit beneath a walnut tree,
And quietly smoke my pipe,
I feel all the peace and tranquility,
With none of the hunter left in me.
"Any luck" my neighbor asks me
As I drive up to my door,
I shake my head negatively-
"Not today as I carefully put
My unused gun away.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Through summer heat
Or winter storm,

Her sweet face beneath hair
Of white,

Stands at my door.
"How is my good friend today?”
She asks, and pats my hand.

And much like dear Mother of old,
Explores her shopping-bag
For some surprise gift To unfold.

We take our tea,
Or sip of wine.
I inquire as to her health,
She of mine.
Together we chase the ghost Away.
The ghost of a younger and
Happier day.


 By Beatrice M. Hanson

What was left of the old farmhouse
 lay in ruins, in the quiet tranquility
 of a mid-summer country-side.
Forgotten, abandoned, it was left
 to defy the elements.
The structure withstood for many
 seasons the onslaught of rainfalls
 like scalding tears that washed and
 rewashed the streaked clapboards.
It had endured the hot summer
 suns kisses on its tar roof.
The winter winds played tag around its corners,
 tugging again and again at their support.

Termites nibbled on the rotting wood,
 contributing to their decay.

Vandals broke the window panes.
Destroyed or carted away
 what furniture they found.
What was left was a shell,
 with No apparent owner.

As years passed, all left visible,
 was the sloping roof boards,

 topped by a still staunch grey cement chimney,
 which rose above the rambles, like a watchful guardian.

When the winter snows melted the warm sun
 and soft rain blessed the lands with their gifts.

Seeds so encouraged, began their life cycle.
Tall grass mixed in with woodlands growth of
 Queen Ann’s lace, Buttercups, and other wild species.
Black-Berry Vines twisting in circles
 imprisoned all within its circumference.

The long neglected rose bush felt the urge to
 spread out its thorny limbs,to clutch at the
 sagging porch rails for support.

When reaching its goal, clusters of red roses
 budded and bloomed,

 leaving their fragrant heads against the roof
 in sweet repose.

The stately Hollyhock, seeds scattered from previous growth,
 searched forward, like tired soldiers
 who could travel no further.

Two lonely sunflowers sprang up to reach a height,
 Then to poke their fringed yellow
 heads into a painless window, as
 tho in curiosity as to its interior.

Spiders began their web
 weaving from one corner to another
 resembling in the strong sunlight
 a long string of tiny beads.

Unpruned lilac bushes their sweet scented
 flowers gone to seed,

 spread their green growth in ever
 widening circles against the fallen-in walls.
Buzzing bees broke the silence
 while birds sang, soft and shrill.

The lush of full summer fell
 upon the old place, and gave it charm!


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The saddest part of living
Is when our days are few
And we are but a shadow
Cast from the life we once knew.
Our productive years are in the past,
Our hopes, our dreams, our cares
Are almost covered up with time
While fading memories live only in the mind.
The soul is weary of life’s strife,

The trip has left its mark.
There’s nothing now, to do, but rest
And wait for dusk to turn to dark.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The hours seem shorter,
Daily tasks left undone.
Is it that I’m growing older
Or is it time against the sun?
Friends are lost in silence,
Their voices no longer echo in my rooms,
Or had I closed the door upon them,
To wait in solitude for my doom?
The eyes grow dimmer,
Days are filled with soft twilight,
Could it be the tears that gather,
Help to soften failing sight?
Voices crowd around me,
Whispering memories in my ear,
Or is it old age, mellow and ripe for dreaming,
Of youth and love and laughter,
Once again?.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

There is a small old-fashioned house,
Beside a busy road

With windows dressed in ruffled white,
To match the seasons mode.
There is no path up to the door
The snow lies still and white
And only a women dreaming
Can be seen in a shaft of light.
She sits all day in her easy-chair
From morn until the night.
Her hands lie idle in her lap,
Her eyes have lost their sight.
While she herself has fled from care,
Her chains she’s thrust away!
And light and free as a winging bird,
She’s flown to the yesterdays.

Don’t let your heart be full of pain,
Your eyes fill up with tears,
For Mother’s gone where she loves best,
Her favorite Yesteryear's.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The years passed all too quickly, as it does in a home where there is much activity and special events.
The eldest of the daughters completed their education, found paying  positions, eventually meeting the man of their choice, to move away and begin their lives anew.
The mood of the day also changed. During the preceding years most country homes enjoyed electricity, running water and of course indoor bathrooms. In the early twenty’s bobbed hair became the current rage. Women appeared in "knickers" and short skirts. Cigarette smoking was on the increase and socially accepted as the habit grew. Boot-leg whiskey smuggled in for those who wanted it and knew where to find it. Questionable literature flooded the book stores. It was the beginning of a relaxed society that went along with whatever the style decreed, The pace picked up speed after the first automobiles came off the assembly lines. Those who could afford to invest in one were elated by the thrill of travelling further afield, and in less time then it took for other transportation, and with greater comfort.
When World War One ended, the peace brought with it hard times. Bread and soup lines in the cities. A wild sort of spirit sprung up among the young many of whom lost their beloved ones “to the cause”.
After our two boys finished their schooling, Papa decided to take his well-earned retirement, he bought a cottage home in a quiet town in New York State with enough acreage to allow him space to raise enough poultry to help finances and to keep himself busy.
At long last Mother’s time was her own!
Both our parents lived to a good age dying within a few years of each other They were buried in a beautifully kept cemetery on a hill overlooking the mountains that Papa had loved.
We believed we lived in an era where morals were generally high. Honesty a virtue. Happiness to us came from sharing the simple pleasures that came our way. “Way Back Then” is now a time of the past that can never be reborn or its values re-kindled.



By Beatrice M. Hanson

Sometimes I sit and reminisce of the good old days and sights I miss.
I think of the hot summer days: of the iceman’s truck in the dark alleyways, the children following behind like puppy dogs to snitch a sliver of ice, then hide; the cement so hot you could fry an egg, would make the tinkle of ice sound like champagne to your head.
A parade of salesmen at your door with worn suitcases of wares for the housewife to explore. Brushes, perhaps a curtain of lace, or creams and lotions for milady’s face.
A perennial caller of books to sell with thinning hair and schoolboy smile, who depended on you’re subscription to attend school in good style.
The clapper-de-clap of horses hooves brought the bakery wagon into view. When its good natured driver called a halt, women and children lined up on the walk to look at the pastries oiled high on the shelves. For a small coin you could choose for yourself.
Children of all ages would stop in their play when the rag man’s shrill voice was heard to say: “Any rags? Any rags? Any rags? Any bones, any bottles for sale? One cent a pound by the weight of my scale.”
The open trolley swaying past with the uniformed conductor standing back to feed his coin belt nickel fares, or stopping to chat with friendly pairs.
For mystery and intrigue of faraway places came the mournful midnight whistle of a passenger train, its windows outlining a silhouette of faces as it snaked its way to a dark destination.
I think of all these things, and many more, that have left this age to return no more.
Well, I have a right to feel forlorn for this was the era in which I was born.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

A short story

As I drove along the dirt road, glancing from time to time over the surrounding countryside, my mind turned once again to the scenes of my childhood.
Then the meadows were of lush green, with black-eyed-susans  tilting their heads to the soft summer breezes, Tall green grasses swayed to make a path for the brown bare legs of children who waded through them to go to the higher slopes where bluetts and sand violets grew in clusters. A tinkling brook played “hide and seek” through thick impenetrable brush on its hurried way to join the river. A real “Fairy Land” for children’s play.

Today the land sheared far too often, left only yellow stubs of witch-grass in evidence. The narrow brook, long since dried up, or taken new course to its destination. A row of ugly structures in the background destroyed the country beauty once so peaceful and full of charm.
I continued on my way, following the road a quarter of a mile up the rocky incline to its top. Now, one could see the farmhouse built close to the ground. A sprawling row of house, sheds, garage and lastly the big red barn. A sagging sign read "Hilltop Farm".
It wasn’t a pleasant task I had undertaken on this day. Since Father died two years before, the rest of our family, now grown and married, left the farm to make their homes elsewhere.
We had decided it was time to sell the estate, and divide the profit evenly, according to Dad’s will.
Since his death the farm was rented by a "would be" farmer who, in time, found it wasn’t an easy task to make it pay, and gave up the attempt.

The place remained empty and in need of new paint and repairs I noticed, as I took the gravel road that led to the side entrance. Parking the car, I fished in my hand-bag for the house keys. I was elected to make a last survey of the buildings before tie new owner took over. The back door opened easily to the turning of the key in the lock. Inside the rooms were stark bare, with a slight odor of dampness prevailing through-out the first floor. Touring the rooms I checked for broken windows, storm damages, or signs of intruders.
As I climbed the stairs to the second floor, memories of us, as children. sliding down the banisters when mother called us to get to the kitchen fast for our regular breakfast of rolled-oats porridge and our own creamed butter and homemade bread.
The sun was shining through the western windows as I toured the bedrooms. In the master bedroom closet, I ran my hand far back to the walls. My fingers touched some object. I pulled it forward with two fingers. It proved to be a long shoe-box grey with time and covered with dust. Taking it closer to the curtain less window, I knelt down on the floor to remove the cover. Inside lay a much faded and worn carpet-bag. The once colorful tapestry grey now with the time in its dark and damp concealment. Tenderly I held it up, and the years rolled back as I recalled who the owner was, and why it was hidden so secretly these many years.

Chapter 2

Following Mother’s funeral services, the family arrived in their cars, to park in the wide driveway which took up all one side of the homestead. Car doors opened and shut as the bereaved family turned toward the back entrance to the kitchen, for a last cup of coffee or tea together, before each took their separate ways homeward.
Their first out-pouring of tears and grief now left them with a dull ache in their chests and with a numbness devoid of emotion.
The kitchen was warm from the in pouring sun and a spotless cleanliness, just as mother always kept it. A large round braided rug she made of old pieces of calico and sewn together so patiently years before, lay on the scrubbed wooden floor, worn in spots, but still colorful in its faded colors.
The old chime clock, its gold pendulum losing none of its regularity standing on its own special shelf, continued to tick away the time.
Coffee cups clinked as the women started the tea and coffee making. Kind neighbors had stolen in while the family were away at the church to leave casseroles of food and platters of fresh pastries. The hot drinks tasted good to the elders, but they had no appetite at the moment for food.
My younger sister and I wandered into the familiar sitting room for a quiet conversation. It was then we noticed Mother's carpet bag hanging by its strap to the back of the family Boston Rocker.
It looked crushed and forlorn its edges frayed from constant handling through the years.
Acute nostalgia consumed us at its pitiful sight. It seemed to make Mother's death so final, so far above mortal things.
How many times in our growing up years had we watched Mother reach for this bag, for it contained every kind of emergency measures. Cough drops, “Smith Brothers” for those who complained of a ticklish throat. Tissues to wipe away childish tears or wipe sticky fingers? Needles, pins, thread, buttons. Mother, like a magician, could draw out almost anything one needed. Always there as the “change” purse, dedicated to the “do gooders”. Mother, hurry, the ice cream man is coming! “Hand me my bag then, child” she'd respond, reaching inside For the coins she kept handy# They were always there for special occasions. Small, shell like teeth were forever coming out and the "Good Fairy" never forgot to leave something under the tooth-loser’s pillow! In time, we outgrew our need for penny’s and nickel’s and earned our own spending money.

Many expensive gifts, along with new leather bags were given to Mother as the years passed. She admired each one and promptly stored them away in their boxes and tissue papers, her view being, the older a Possession was, the more priceless it became. New things had made no memories, and memories were true gold that never tarnished.
Lovingly we removed the bag and finding a suitable box, packed it carefully away. I remember we pinned a note to the tapestry - "Mother's bag, keep it safe always".


Getting up from my knees, I carried the bag with its scanty contents downstairs and out the kitchen door. I must find a spot not likely to be disturbed in the coming years. I chose a place close behind the red barn, now overgrown with weeds and crab-grass . Finding a broken handled spade in the tool house, I dug a hole large enough to accompany the box and deep enough not likely to be uncovered. Stooping down I laid the box at the bottom, covering it well with dirt, stamping it down for good measure.
Putin away the spade I re-locked the house door, and getting into my car drove down the highway for the last time, keeping my eves straight ahead. I chose not to be tempted to look back, it would be too painful.
Perhaps the new owners would love it as we did. Perhaps small children would again play in the fields beyond. Perhaps they too, would make good memories as we did, and perhaps, they might, if lucky, know the wonders and magic of a loving Mother's carpet-bag!



By Beatrice M. Hanson

Mother, as was mentioned earlier, was indeed an excellent seamstress Before marriage she had been employed in a local department store as a hat designer. It was the style of the day for ladies hats to be trimmed with either flowers, feathers or ribbons. Mother often mentioned the many compliments she received by the manager of that department for the good taste she displayed in her handwork.
She retained her sewing ability in later years as she continued to make many of the clothes we children wore.
My sister, Claire, came home from school one day in near tears. She confided to Mother, the Juniors were planning their annual Prom. Claire had been asked to attend the affair with a Senior-Class boy. It was, in a way an honor for a student from a lower classroom to receive a Senior's bid. Claire felt she couldn't accept as she owned no dross pretty enough for the big occasion. No one in our circumstance could afford to buy a new frock just for one occasion. Mother listened to her daughter, knowing how important it was to her to accept the invitation. Thoughtfully, with one finger to her cheek, she sought a way out. Quite suddenly the idea came to her. Her own wedding dress of course! For years it had been packed in layers of tissue. Its style was out of date, of course, but she could alter it to fit the current fashion. The material was what counted. It was made from yards of lustrous Skinner Satin, in a soft yellow. The richest material of its kind and had been, even then, quite costly. It would look beautiful on Claire. She could see her daughter dressed in such a gown!
Getting her sewing materials together, she brought out the box that held the precious dress. Shaking the memories from its folds, she proceeded to cut off the long train.
That evening when Claire came into the sewing room, she had her try it on for further alterations. Even as it was, the color suited Claire bringing out her blue-black wavy hair and blue eyes. She would do the dress justice, Mother was quite sure on that score.On the night of the Prom, much activity took place in the girls bedrooms. The older girls taking part in helping their sister into her gown - finding just the right necklace, silk stockings, bangles and perfume.
When Claire finally emerged to parade in front of Mother, she couldn't have looked more beautiful. The dress fit to perfection.
As the front door bell rang, Claire picked up a lacy shawl, and as her escort entered, threw it over her shoulders, and with a radiant smile, took his arm to leave for the dance.
It was past midnight when voices were heard outside saying their good nights. Then the door opened and shut. Claire stood leaning against the door-frame, her expression serious and sorrowful.
"What’s wrong, child?" Mother asked, springing to her feet.
"Mother," Claire sobbed, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. After all the work you did on the dress, no one even saw it! My beautiful dress just split its seams the first time I got up to dance. I had to wear my shawl over it all evening long!"
Mother reasoned later, the material had given way to its age. She packed the dress away in its tissues once again, with some sadness.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Papa was looking over the "Farmers Journal". He noticed an ad which read: “Send for our sure cure for potato bugs,” Papa was having trouble with this bug so he decided to send the required fee and his name and address.
After a time the Rural Delivery deposited a small package in the farm's roadside mail box.
Papa opened it with great interest.
Inside were two small, smooth, square boards, and a typewritten slip of paper with these instructions:
“Catch the potato bug between these boards and press - sure cure.”
The laugh was on Papa.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Occasionally an unusual story will hit the news the country over. Such was the case back in the 201s.
An aged prophesier, well known for his previous forecasts predic­ted the ending of the world as well as the exact date it would come about.
His “absolute” certainty of this is what made it an interesting as well as a questionable piece of news.
Mother brought the subject up at the supper table the evening before the predicted date. “What do you think of it?” she asked Father with the wide-eyed innocent look of the country housewife.
"Poppy-cock! No such a thing!" thundered Papa bringing his fist down on the supper table with such force it set the dishes rattling. With that he left the table, reached for his hat and disappeared out the back door, giving Mother no chance for further argument.
We children left the table, too. We had our own interests to attend to, leaving Mother with her cold tea and a martyred expression.
At ten o’clock I went upstairs to west bedroom with my two smaller brothers. We were tired after the day’s activities and, after some small talk back and forth, we all fell into a deep sleep.
I awoke, suddenly alert, and lifted myself up on my elbows. The room was deluged in an orange light so bright it brought out every detail, every corner, I had a feeling of terrible disaster and dread.
It is the end of the world, was my first thought. My heart doubled its beat. I lay prone waiting. Slowly the orange light faded from the walls; black darkness filled in.
I heard the hiss of brakes outside and realized in quick relief it was only the motionless trolley-car, on the incline, whose beam had penetrated the room. Now it moved on. I lay back on my pillow. My heart quieted down, I felt drowsy.
I was going fishing in the morning. A pretty girl had moved into our neighborhood. The violets might be out along the river.
The prediction was wrong. It wasn’t the end of the world at all.
For me, nearing thirteen, it was just the beginning.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

As I listen to the "pros and cons” on the question of sex education in the schools, I smile in recollection of how the children of a large family got around it some fifty years back.
Humorously speaking, we were practically raised on the subjects of health and sex.When we children reached the age where we could feed ourselves but had difficulty reaching for dinner plates at the dining room table,Mother invariably brought out the "Doctor's Book". When inserted under the children's buttocks, the desired height was reached. There he sat quite unaware of all the information on mankind’s ills he so innocently held down!The "Doctor's Book" bought by Papa from a travelling salesman,( and later he agreed it was a bad mistake ) weighed all of ten pounds with a good foot in width. Mother spent hours thumbing the pages for every kind of illness concerning her family, but ran into symptoms that intermingled, making one complaint not unlike another. Oftentimes s she put the big book aside to retreat to her own method of nursing. An aspirin on the tongue, cold wet clothes on a hot forehead, and a juicy quartered orange to suck on. Generally the little patient was up and about in a very short time.When we children arrived at the "curiosity stage" we waited for the time when Mother left the house to borrow a cup of sugar or flour from a neighbor before tip-toeing to the coat-closet to drag down the heavy book from a high shelf. With a knowing look, we would flip the pages until we came to a colored structure of a woman. Each organ operated on hinges that slid aside to disclose the next organ. When we came to the unknown infant curled up like a small kitten, we looked knowingly at one another, closed and quietly returned the book to its place on the shelf.If Mother ever suspected the reason why we didn't take her“Stork Story” seriously, she didn't let us know.
If the old " Doctor's Book" served a purpose it was to help satisfy our young appetites for food, and to some extent, our curiosities.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

It was the age of the jazz-time craze, when popular hit songs from the New York Musicals flooded the music stores as fast as they could be printed.
Our piano rack, at home, being thus covered with the latest songs and lyrics.
When Mother had the urge, usually in the late afternoons, before supper hour, she liked to sit at the piano, idly picking out a tune or two she felt she could master.
On a summer day, two young men appeared at our door, asking to speak to the “lady of the house.” When she was called, Mother met them with an inquiring look.
“We are piano tuners,” they told her. Do you happen to have one?
Mother nodded her head. “I do,” she answered.
“Fine,” spoke up one of the men. “Do you mind if we look it over?” “Perhaps we could tell you if it’s in good tune.” “No obligations of course.”
Mother hesitated before inviting them to step inside, and into the Parlor where the piano stood.
Seating himself on the piano stool, one of the strangers ran his hand along the key-board before playing a few chords.
“M,m-m” he said, half to himself. Then, glancing back at Mother in the background he remarked somewhat gloomily, “It sounds quite a bit out of tune. Too bad, because this is a good instrument,” peering at the name “Kimbell” inscribed on the front. “I’m sure you wish to keep it in good condition. It won't cost too much to get it back in tune. Well worth the small expense.”
Mother fought with her conscience. She realized too well it wasn’t a necessity, but the idea of having it kept in tune was a strong incentive.
“Well,” she finally replied, “if you think it needs to be done."
“Thank you, Mam,” the spokesman said, “we'll be here early in the morning.”

The following day as promised, the men arrived, carrying a battered suit-case, supposedly with the equipment needed to do the job. Folding back the piano top to expose the intricate mechanism that stood out like the skeletons of countless fingers - they began their work.
By noon, the cover was again in place. Mother, hearing them packing up, hurried from the kitchen to pay the price set upon. One of the men pulled a few worn felts from his pocket. “You see, madam, these felts have been eaten up by moths, Lucky we got the rest in time.” Mother’s eyes grew big as she listened to what “might have been.”
After playing, as proof of their work, another set of chords, they pocketed the money and left. We felt, rather hurriedly.
That evening, at the supper table, Mother explained to Papa how she happened to have the piano tuned. His answer to this was a grunt which could mean approval or disapproval, whichever way you wanted to take it.
Later that evening as Papa was reading the evening paper, his eyes were drawn to a short article warning housewives to beware of two young men in the vicinity posing as piano tuners. They carried moth-eaten felts to show proof to the gullible of the dire need of their services.
Papa threw the paper on Mother's lap then, taking his cap from the kitchen peg, stormed out the back door.
Not one of us dared say a word for Mother’s lip was in a big pout. It would be a long time before she’d be taken in again by a fast talking salesman, of that we could be sure.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Our home was large, old fashioned, and in the cold weather, drafty.
It had no central heating so that the four upstairs bedrooms were always icebox cold.
The long living room was heated only by a very elegant parlor stove (my father's proud gift to the household). It stood on its zinc pad, rooted in position by a black stovepipe running lengthwise behind until an elbow made connections into the chimney of a boarded up fireplace. The section still outlined by an impressive white mantelpiece.
The stove was a self-feeder, the top designed in fancy silver scrolls, was made to swing out disclosing a black lid. A hod full of coal could be poured down the central pipe to spread out over the grates. When the coal burned down to gray ashes, the grates were shaken down, the dead coal falling into a pan beneath. Silver bumpers protected one from going too close to the heated sides.
On exceptionally cold nights the family drew their chairs to circle the stove's warmth. Stocking feet caressed the wide silver belt. Oftentimes the intense heat drove us back, but cold drafts from the corners sent us closer again.
Mother moved an old couch to a wall opposite the stove one particularly cold night. When we kids came in from the freezing outside to lie on the couch before bedtime, the heat drugged us into a deep sleep. We were awakened by a firm grip on our collars, and told to “get upstairs!”
It was torture to leave the warmth, and ascend the steep stairs to the cold bedrooms. Oftentimes we raced into our room to fall beneath the bed covers still without removing our clothes. It was not uncommon for four of us to share a bed. The snuggling together kept us all warm.
Another hardship was getting downstairs on school mornings to find our shoes (which we left the night before, soaking wet from high snows, under the stove to dry) hard as rocks, the leather tight and uncomfortable.
It took some time breaking them in again.

Our first thoughts of Thanksgiving came when we noticed the pictured turkeys in our local paper. Somehow those ads fascinated us. We pointed them out to Mother and only then did she admit that Thanksgiving Day was close.
Our dining room table had as many as three leaves, and all of them were used to lengthen the table to sit our large family and perhaps a guest or two.
My Father killed his own turkey. I disliked seeing him bring it into the kitchen, plucked but with head hanging loosely. I would remember when I last saw it in with the flock in the chicken yard.
(My father told us, once, if we flattered the turkeys they would fan out their tail feathers. It seemed to work for each time we spoke kindly, their tails did fan out, somewhat like the peacock.)
Christmas was not spoken of either until it was almost upon us. Then again we pointed out the likeness of Santa Claus. Nothing was promised by our parents, but the mystery of it played on our minds constantly.
The church Christmas party took place the night before Christmas Eve. When the separated doors were opened in the church hall, a large, beautifully decorated tree was exposed with a fat Santa to give out gifts, an orange, and box of candy. The gifts were donated by the Sunday School teachers, and alike, depending on whichever class you were in. We treasured our orange and candy, and brought them home carefully for Mother to see.
Mother was found, as she usually was, after supper, in her rocker close to the kitchen stove with her feet in the warm oven. Usually, one of the younger children was prevailed upon to brush her long, black hair while she read her magazine.
Oftentimes, she kept a candy bar in her apron pocket. We realized it was a little treat for herself and we never teased her for it.
Christmas Eve was just another winter's night. Supper over, we washed and dried the dishes. Nothing was said, but inside we were heavy with expectation.
As the bewitching hour came closer, we picked out our choice of stockings from Mother's stocking-basket. Smaller socks were already hung up on the mantel, the youngest children already in bed.
Carefully adding our own to the row on the mantel, we gave them one last look before starting for bed secretly hoping their limpness would be replaced by the bulging shapes of Christmas gifts. We retired to the upstairs without any nagging from Mother. Once in bed we hugged each other to keep warm, and then we tried hard to stay awake. Soon each was in a deep slumber.
It was still dark when one of us awoke long enough to realize it was morning and give the alarm. With a great rush we all jumped from the bed. Taking our turn at riding down the Bannister, we walked into the living-room hardly daring to look.
The light was just beginning to enter the room, but we could see the stockings, now bulging, with dolls and toys peeping over the tops. Extra gifts were piled beneath.
The waiting was over. Santa had come!
Snows had come, too, and freezing weather. Frozen pipes were expected. Cream in the milk bottles extended out like coated tongues. Drifts covered the fences, but the crust was so hard one was able to mount small hills that covered everything.
Yes, winter on the farm was hardship, but it was also a time of family closeness; a time for cold apples from the cellar, polished red for eating, homemade candy, and corn in the popper. It was chess playing and storytelling. Above all, it was innocent fun, and long peaceful winter nights of sleeping.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The Christmas stocking I remember
Wasn't made of red felt and gold,
But hung in all its humility
Without a definite shape of its own.
It carried no special name plate,
Such as “Jim” or “John” or “Joan”,
Just a thumb-tack inserted to hold it
Securely to the chimney-mold.
It was left in the darkening shadows
With only the glowing embers for light,
And the cold and snowy winter
Was a long and mysterious night!
How, on Christmas morning
What a wonderful sight to behold
The lonely little stocking
Had come upon its own!
Bulging with odd shapes and sizes,
Heavy with its weight of holiday surprises,
Hanging proudly, daring you to guess
What exciting toy would you pull out next?
To be explored by childish fingers
As far down as they would go,
Where an orange and Christmas candy
Snuggled in the stretched out toe.
Now limp, and carelessly cast aside
One was left with a child-like pride
Of memories, throughout one’s life,
Of the Eve before the Christ was born,
And that wonderful stocking on Christmas morn.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I wait for Winter,
I like the solitude it affords us,
A time to take stock of myself and life generally. I’m used to the flat open spaces of farmland; the fields of whit fringed with tall green fir trees as a frame for its splendor.
No man or animal can approach the farm buildings for miles in circumference without being seen or tracked come morning.
I love the feeling of security when cold winds blow, and icicles hang a yard long from the shed roofs; when cozily warm inside, one flattens one’s nose against the frosted pane to absorb the beauty of the quiet countryside.
The dome of stars against blue velvet night sky makes the setting for stillness and clarity of a bitter-cold night.
Man dwindles in size before such magnificence.
No human stirs in the hours before dawn. The farmer and his family lie beneath warm blankets for a long peaceful sleep. In complete tune with nature surrounding them.
There will be an awakening. The cycle of seed-sowing, harvest and rest will began again for the farmer, his sons, and his sons’ sons, for generations to come.

With the first freeze of our New England winter, my thoughts pensively return to the country farm and as children, our first attempts at ice skating.
Zero weather then, was generally felt around Thanksgiving. Thereafter, the ponds and lakes froze thick and did not again thaw out until the early Spring.
Pools of frozen water in the farm's low-lands, glistened like polished mirrors in the bright sunlight.
The long red cow barns, within a fringe of green fir trees and fence posts made a picturesque background.
I remember, as children, running from ice patch to ice patch in our search for the longest and widest, in which to skate on. Once it was staked out, children from surrounding farms joined in the sport. Woolen scarves flying, skates twisted around small shoulders, they descended the hill, their sleds following from behind. Using them as seats, they sat down to attach their skates to their shoes. Mittens lay discarded while cold fingers inserted the key to tighten the clamps. Success did not come easily. Skates let go, to send a skater sprawling on the ice. Again, the clamps were adjusted and tightened. With a little luck, they held long enough for one to circle the ice, storing short when the wind pushed one off into the dead brown grass.
Some had the foresight to bring their Mother's broom to lean on and help keen their balance on the slippery ice.
As the afternoon wore on, and the sun less bright, children one by one kicked off their skates to head for home. Cheeks aflame from cold air and exercise, their keen appetites urging them on to the warm and fragrant farm kitchen.
The beauty of the scene, crisp-white, with touches of color, stay in my memory like that of a painter’s masterpiece. It never grows faded or less beautiful, despite the passing of time.

Back fifty years, the seasons in New England were more stable than they've seemed in recent years.
When the winter came, it did not relent. The ground froze solid. Lakes and ponds for ice skating were squared and cut by Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter, the ice cakes stored for the following summer. Snow fell upon snow, piling up into drifted hills that covered the highest fence.
Horse-drawn plows passed over the snow-covered sideways. Highways were leveled, leaving the sleights runners to pack the snow, thereby makings ribbons of polished ice.
New England lay in the grip of winter. By the tail-end of February, however, one began to sense a warmer trend.
Spring sends its forecasters far ahead of its arrival. Bright red sunsets gave a promise of the change to come. Thoughts of romance and of new growth circulated like a warm breeze. One noticed a softening process underfoot, a breaking up of ice crystals.
Children removed their heavy snow pants, leaving on only long underwear under knee-high stockings. They needed them for their trudges back and forth to school.
The frozen earth thawed, warmed by the bright sun's rays. Ice melted to the North, causing the river to swell and overflow its banks.
Snows melted to rush down rutted roads like gurgling brooks. A child's toy boat could be launched and quickly carried downstream to the nearest drain-basin.
In dried up sections of the sidewalks, small boys knelt in the mud for the first marble game of the seasons. Holyoke’s shoe stores adver­tised a free bag of marbles for every pair of boys' shoes sold.
Jumping ropes, made of braided colors and wooden handles were free gifts to little girls whose mothers bought them a pair of Mary Janes.
The popular penny-candy store brought out its display of “three penny” bouncing balls with long rubber bands attached. Sometimes they were used to plop an unsuspecting youngster on the head. The elastics made them quickly retrieved and pocketed before deduction.

College students paraded the campus, class-colored ribbons pinned to their sweaters, in anticipation of the competition basketball or baseball games scheduled ahead.
Pussy-willows were in evidence, the first bouquet to grace the teacher’s desk.
Spring was everywhere!
For all the discomfort winter brought, it made up for it, by far, by greener pastures, more fertile soil, more abundant growth, in exchange for moisture.
Nature is indeed a severe teacher in keeping a balance between growth and rest.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

In spring they wondered why
I toiled my days away
Clearing land and raking hay.

Why I turned the sod and raked
The soil so fine, reverently like
Combing the unruly hair of a
Child of mine.

They shook their heads when
I knelt with smudged check and
Dirt encrusted nails,

To gently pat a seed in place
And say a prayer to make these
Seeds not grow in vain.

Later, as I watered , spaded and sprayed,
My good friends, impatient,

Turned away.
They could only see a stubby
Piece of land.

My faith endured, and when the
Harvest came, their jealous eyes,

Feasted upon the lavish beauty,
I had visioned in my mind
the cold winter through.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Mother was in high spirits that day, and during the evening meal we children learned the reason why.
“Your father,” she informed us, has bought a new car. “A Ford.”
Mother pronounced the word “Ford” in a way which somehow seemed to raise its rank a little closer to the higher priced cars of that day.
The Ford Co. had produced a new car, the Model T, to fit the pocket- books of the middle class. The slogan “Watch the Fords go by,” proved to be the beginning of the American car parade.
After supper, we followed mother down the curving dirt road that led to a small vine-covered shed we later called the garage.
Papa was waiting for us, having come up from the farm he worked on a short distance away. The shed doors were wide open as we stepped inside to inspect the black shiny vehicle. It seemed to us, seen in so small a stall, immense and inspiring.
While we younger children clambered into the back seat to test its comfort, someone pressed the large horn attached to the car’s side. The loud “ahooga! ahooga!” vibrated so ominously we scrambled in haste out of the car door lest this monster take off by itself.
Papa lifted the hood with great pride to show mother the clean and spotless motor. Then we all filed outside to watch while he brought the doors together with a padlock to prevent any possible intruding.
The following Sunday we descended the stairs to find mother busily packing a picnic lunch. She told us Papa had planned a drive in the country. If we cared to go, we should get ready.
We needed no urging. It was a treat we had been anticipating.
An hour later everyone was ready. Mother, dressed in her Sunday best wore a veil pinned to her hat to protect her hair from the breeze.

All that remained was closing the north windows in case of a summer storm. We waited impatiently on the lawn, eyeing the road for the first glimpse of the approaching car.
Little brother was first to point out the car now moving slowly up
the hill. "Giggerum, giggerum," he cried excitedly, making imaginary motions of gear shifting.
The car came to a stop before us, shaking and quivering. Shutting off the motor, Papa called to Mother not to lock the back door until he fetched a pitcher of water for the motor.
Mother made her appearance carrying out the lunch basket which we stored on the floor between us.
There was a moment of concern when Mother's weight tipped the car a bit, b:it it straightened out when she seated herself, proud as a peacock, beside the driver's seat.
Papa took precious time to pack his pipe and light it, and fit his motoring cap tighter before leaning over to adjust gas and sparks.
Now he stepped to the front, and with a mighty arm, swung the crank around. There was no result. Again he cranked; again it did nothing. The third swing did it. The motor caught on with much sputtering, while the body vibrated with everything it had.
Holding on tight to the side rail, we felt the car gliding forward. Necks extended to watch for an untimely approach of a trolley until we had passed the tracks safely.
Papa stayed mostly on unpaved roads, but there was much to see. We were kept busy twisting our necks from side to side so as not to miss anything.
After some miles of travelling, Mother suggested we find a spot to have lunch. We found a shaded knoll covered with pine needles. While we ate, we kids kept our eyes on the car below us fearful of its taking off and leaving us stranded miles from home.
Once again, on our way, we noticed cow pastures encircled with fences made of rock piles. And it was just such a farm we turned into. 

The farmhouse, with a long open porch, faced the dirt driveway, with two large red barns adjoining.
As the now dusty car shivered to a stop, Uncle came limping from the milk room, hands outstretched in greeting, and with a big smile for the contraption in his driveway.
Auntie came hurrying from the back kitchen, wiping flour from her hands to welcome the visitors.
We were loudly greeted by our small cousins who took us to the barn to see the new-born calf and the black and white kittens in the hay-loft. Later we were offered fresh strawberry, homemade ice-cream and cake.
Now Papa said we must leave to get home before dark. We settled ourselves for the long ride home and waved goodbye.
We reached home just as the sun went down. Papa left us off at the house to take the car back to the shed.
We told ourselves it was a day to remember. And so it was! As Forty- odd years later I can remember every moment of it.
The peace, tranquility and morality of that era can never be matched. All but one of the passengers on the Model T are dead now, like the era, but never forgotten.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I remember summer holidays as well as weekends brought out the crowds of people who loved to spend the day at the lake.
As early as ten A. M. a line of open trolleys marked “Specials” chartered by one organization or another, swayed their way through South Hadley to meet with the Amherst line. From there they rode through a wooded area where the cars stopped to let the passengers off.
One followed a short, sandy path before coming into an open field, with the clear lake in the background.
Lunch carriers proceeded to the hilly section behind the stand where picnic tables were installed, and here they left their lunch boxes before buying their locker keys.
There were rentals of bathing suits, caps, and water wings. Mr. Aldrich and his assistant were kept busy supplying the demands for ice cream, soda pop, and candy bars.
Later an open dance pavilion was built on the lower end of the lake. Here couples could dance to a good orchestra while watching the moon over the water. Canoes were moored beneath the dance floor, and a small fee a fellow could take his girl for a ride around the lake.

This was an era when there were few cars and this kind of relaxation was enjoyed to the fullest.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

I came upon a woodland path
I had not explored before
To find a rainbow of flowers
From seeds the wind had sewn.

They nestled close together,
They needed not my care
The morning sun, the drops of rain
Were all they wished to claim.

Their fragrance and their beauty
Could thrive and die in time,

Without the observation of a
Single human eye!


By Beatrice M. Hanson

The Hollyhock amazes me,
I speculate to what degree
It will grow against the old

stone wall,
Sometimes seven or eight feet tall,
Before it starts to flower.
Each separate stalk displays its buddings,
The blooms come, alternating every other one.
And as they die are deftly twisted,
As tho an unseen hand existed
To determine their hour.

Nature has its way of knowing
When time is due for another showing.

Blossoms climbing up its ladder,
Nod to everyone who passes.
Then thet are no more.
They leave their wealth
All neatly packaged,

Like copper pennies in a packet.
And when they,re brown
And aged by sun

They break loose from the fold,
To fall beside the Mother stalk,
And scatter all their

summer gold.


By Beatrice M. Hanson

Have you ever risen early
On a still lush summer day
To gaze upon the outside world
Draped in pearly-grey?
Have you sought to view the garden
Hidden under threads of web-lace,
Where all plant life lay sleeping
Waiting for the suns embrace?
There’s an element of mystery
As in the world of fairy-land,
Where every blade is fragile,
Dew-diamonds on every hand.
The scent of the modest petunia
Penetrates the thick moist air,
While a peaceful hand hovers over all,
Guarding the sleeping in its care.
Slip back to bed I beg you,
Before the day grows long,
To keep this moment forever,
A thing of mystic charm.