"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words. " ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Friday, June 26, 2009

Time to Write a Letter

A HOUSE WHERE ALL'S ACCUSTOMED, CEREMONIOUS

Little House on the Prairie Historic Site
Indpenedence, Kansas

Samuel Gordon Lindsey
My grandfather's brother, in 1913; age 20.

In 1888 my great-grandparents moved from Illinois to settle a homestead in Nebraska. By 1893, they had erected not a one-room but, proudly, a two-room home on the prairie, where my great-grandmother Sally (Sarah Elisabeth Hartman Lindsey) sat one summer day writing a long letter to her niece, enchantingly named Eyrie. What I especially like is that Sally explains how the babies are napping while she writes. So many times when my children were small, my own letters began: “The boys are now asleep, so I have a moment to answer your letter.”

Some things never change! Sally begins:

Dear Eyrie

I am (nearly) alone this afternoon, with my babies Beatrice and Gordon both asleep. Jimmie went 5 miles away to see a sick horse this morning, taking Wayne with him. Mabel and Jim are at Sunday School 3 ½ miles distant since dinner. And I have a quiet time in which to write. You know, Eyrie, few of the homesteaders have another room where they can go and read or write undisturbed.


Sally goes on to describe a summer of severe drought, punctuated by a few severe thunderstorms. During one of these storms, her husband Jimmie was struck by lightning. While he was recuperating, some old friends

who used to live in J’s native town in Ohio, came eight miles to see him. They are well-to-do people spending a few months here for their health. They brought him some oranges, a can of peaches, and Gordon a new dress. After Wayne had eaten of the peaches, his papa was telling him we would move east where fruit grows and then we could have some. I was out, and when I came in, Wayne said, “And Mama don't you think they grow on trees”! It has only been a year since he learned there was such a thing as a tree. He scarcely ever sees one, they usually die in the first year.

In fact, Wayne, who was four at the time, did grow up to see many trees; and indeed, the Lindseys did move east, eventually settling in Kansas in 1895—the year that my grandfather, Paul Jones Lindsey, was born in a covered wagon as the family was traveling in search of their permanent home. It is sad and strange for me to think that my great-grandmother long outlived the two babies who lay napping that day while she wrote to Eyrie. Samuel Gordon Lindsey (after whom my own little Sam is named) died in France, 31 July 1918, at the Battle of the Aisne-Marne. And Edna Beatrice Lindsey Smith died in 1922, aged 31; though so young, she was already the mother of six.

Thinking of them all -- Sally, Eyrie, Beatrice, her children -- brings to mind the following tender-hearted poem that I have loved since girlhood:

THOUGHTS OF A MODERN MAIDEN

Throb of my heart, throb of my heart,
How did you get here, where did you start?

Ages ago in some lowly thing,
Pulsating since with unceasing spring?

Through countless lifetimes, from mother to young,
Heart throb, heart throb, a rhythm has sung.

Once in a queen, twice in a slave,
Wife of prince, wife of a knave.

Mother to daughter, down through the years,
Some heirs to gladness, some heirs to tears.

Defended by vassal, seized by a lord,
Sentenced to death but saved by a word.

Women of virtue, women of shame,
Women of desert, women of slum,

Down to my grandmere, sweet and demure,
Down to my mother, patient and pure.

Why was I forged as a link in this chain?
What of the past shall I break or maintain?

Heart throb, heart throb, wonder past knowing,
Where did you come from, where are you going?


by Edith M. Roberts

Roberts's poem can be found in the well - loved
anthology from my formative years:
The American Album of Poetry
compiled by American radio personality
Ted Malone, 1908 - 1989

6 comments:

  1. While I don't believe I personally knew Kitti Carriker during my time at NMSU, I do recall the name and that she had a budding talent for poetic expression; in fact I just came across some of her earlier works while recently skimming the first issue of "Windfall." It's good to see that poetry continues to be her safe harbour from these battering seas.
    Bill White

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  2. Dear Anonymous / Bill, I appreciate your supportive words and hope you will sign up as a Follower of my blogs. Just today (26 Aug), I was filling out an NMSU alumni form and listed WINDFALL as one of my best college memories. Thanks for reading & remembering, Kitti

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  3. Cate wrote: Loved your posting. Thinking about your grandparents. Thinking about not seeing a tree.

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  4. Hi Kitti,
    I loved this posting. Samuel Gordon Lindsey has a findagrave.com memorial (#23720987)and I hope you would consider posting this picture or another there.
    Craig English (a very distant Lindsey relative)

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  5. Thank you Craig. I would be happy to share the photo.

    I have added a link so that readers may reach findagrave.com by clicking on the Sam's name in the final paragraph.

    Clicking Sam's name in the opening line, will take you to another post featuring my Uncle Sam, on my daily blog site.

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  6. I am the great granddaughter of Beatrice, the granddaughter of her youngest daughter Gail. I am just beginning my genealogical history of the Lindsey's and would love to chat with you about it. My name is Cindy and you can reach me at cgsalisbury@yahoo.com.

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