The moon was full, the hour late, When the phone call came
Your Father's family homestead Has been consumed by flame!
The folks are safe, the fire put out; but don't, just yet, come 'round -
Since we're all adjusting To the house done down to ground.
Not quite a hundred years ago, On a finer day,
Big Jim Smith, "The Chief", had brought his "Else" To live and love and stay!
His six-foot-four, her four-foot-six, Borne lightly in his arms,
Would work, and bear, and laugh and fight And work the little farm.
For fifty years and more 'tis known, For love of God and Man;
For one fair daughter, seven sons, Who helped to till the land.
For fifty years and more 'tis known, The house a family forum
For joy and woes unnumbered, And often quite a quorum!
So much so, in later days, Each morn the flag was raised
At the "Little Whitehouse", And all about it praised.
But that skips the story, So let's resume the tale,
And take it back to early days Such memories don't pale:
The house was small; times were hard, Days it fair would quake,
From the very din and doin's That such a brood could make!
The Homestead, still, a palace Since from Eire came he,
To train in steel first, in Sheffield, America's entry fee!
Immigration laws had changed, the streets were lined with hordes
Of unskilled starving workers, And so they said, "No more!"
It isn't fair to them or us, A new rule must be made!
From now on, new arrivals must have a decent trade!
oung, and brave and work-proud, New goals and free from want!
New home in fair Connecticut; New work with grand DuPont
The Fairfield Coated Fabrics plant Was part Big Jim's construction
His finely trained steamfitter's skills Enabled grand production
Not one weak joint, not one down day At Fairfield's plant, for sure!
He steamed and worked and wrought, until Becoming too mature
And Big Jim Smith, a work-proud man, was called upon once more
"It's just the new addition, Chief - They're tearin' up the floor!"
"The plant you built so long ago - Well, Chief, they've lost the plans,
Drawn to show the fittings set, Installed by Jim Smith's hands!
And now they can't connect the pipes from older wing to new,
And since your work installed them, We thought we'd come to you!"
And so, at age of eighty-five, With hair of snow, and cane,
He led a workman's entourage, To save the day again!
"Start your workmen, here!", he points, "And fifty feet due west,
but there you'll find an angle joint, Turns South for all the rest!"
And strolling through the plant that day, Each steam pipe mapped anew!
And when the men went by his word, Each bit of it went true!
Each fitting where he said it was And so the job completed
The new addition - and the boss - no longer overheated!
If Big Jim Smith felt too retired and obsolete till then,
From that day on 'twas not the case - His memory served his men!
His Irish barrel-chestedness Now swelled about the house
Bringing smiles of pride and joy To his adoring spouse!
To run the show at work that day, Took Chief's mem'ry back
To years of sweat and labor, Time of awful lack!
"The Roaring Twenties" promises inspired large investments
And even larger families - Then came the Big Depression!
Work alone was not enough To keep his family thriving,
So make the garden large enough To earn some extra living.
And so, with home-farm underway, Jim could work his trade,
And, even at the worst of it, A week's pay honest wage.
And now, "meanwhile, back at the ranch", Was industry as well,
And quite a crew came running When they rang the dinner bell!
Jim from work, daughter, Em, six of seven sons at table,
The seventh, grown, would join them, too, whene'er he might be able!
Good corned beef and cabbage Tho' sometimes lean of that!
But grace o'er all, all the same, 'And please remove your hat.'
And, in the evening, such a brood Was Grandpa's built in choir!
To sing the holy lyrics And best you never tire!
Picnics in the summertime, Father in at Christmas,
Years flew past, the children grew, And a change in business.
Hitler to be put to route, And later on, Korea:
Jim and Elsie's sons, at war - Patriotic panacea!
One marine, one air corpsman, And so on, down the row
One Engineer and one MP, As 'off to serve' they'd go!
And home again with grateful hearts, And hearts aburst with pride!
And little Elsie waiting there, And Big Jim at her side!
The joyful vets homecoming, though, had come at awful cost!
The five fighting Sullivan Brothers Had recently been lost:
In Patriotic Brotherhood, They'd asked to serve together-
A happy, fighting Irish show They'd made in finer weather!
But then the game went serious, Their ship under attack-
The barrage so brutal, Not one of five came back!
Their parents stunned forever, A grieving country ceded,
"Such a tragic happening Must never be repeated!"
A law passed, nearly instantly: Separate fields of combat duty,
The new law for large families, Saved scores, absolutely!
The Smith Brothers returned intact To study war no more!
They left home boys, but came home men, From the work of war!
Full of new maturity To make their grownup lives
And work for peace and plenty, And all in need of wives!
Fairfield girls, look out this year! Our boys are back and fine!
Grandma's front-yard lilacs, And love this year, divine!
With our bachelor heroes In search of love and marriage
A driveway full of 'hot-rods' Replacing Big Jim's carriage!
Postwar weddings in a row, And livings to be made
And life was on to grand new work, Hitler's plan unmade!
The eldest, Em, now on her own, a wife and mom to four-
at summer trips to "Auntie Em's" No day was a bore!
Gail, "theGolden Pipe-curls Girl", "52-pick-up"Billy,
And Donna "Midge", with beauty that was cool, and not too frilly...
And, still there was their Lynn to come, like Gail, a valentine!
Come pitch in and help with chores; Let's get this place to shine!
Then out to games with Ginger-pup, Or help to feed the sheep
And fun with roadside veggie stands - We earned an angel's sleep!
So, Em was "set for life",they'd say, And getting in her stride,
Her seven younger brothers Working side-by-side:
Bill Smith did construction In the Battle of the Bulge
Sarge, he brought 'em back alive - A grateful tear indulge!
Next, the AlCan Highway Got his work man's hand
New roads and worlds and lives - This country's getting grand!
Young Jim had ways with critters, so the game preserve was his
And Animal Control, as well, at local and state biz.
His gardens and their produce became a second focus
He's got so famed for all of it! It must be "hocus- pocus!"
"Charlie" found his stride of course Behind "The Chief's" fine start
At DuPont's coated fabric plant And brought it up to art
American involvement,now, In space exploration
Was in the headlines every day, To fascinate the nation.
E.I.DuPont, with science strength, Was honored and invited
To manufacture spacecraft parts The whole town was excited!
And NASA's work for Charlie Smith, Was Gold Mylar production:
"Lunar Landing Module Wrap Stops hurtful heat conduction!"
"One small step for Man" took place, We shared a private pride,
Good and simple folk rejoiced At so profound a stride!
Tho',"Don't be makin' such a fuss!", Was Charlie's stock reaction,
Forever after, memory Brought secret satisfaction!
Henry, Army MP Veteran, found his finest place
in Fairfield's Police Force And Sunday Cycle Race!
He grew to fine Detective work and civic work in town.
There doesn't live the man who could ever do him down!
Joe's the one we pray for, Born with health so frail-
Leukemia took him from us Too young to leave a tale.
But not before he married, So there were children three
To say he'd graced this earth awhile Before eternity!
Al, with All-American Entrepreneurial inclinations
Does success and failure Without exasperation!
He's good at family conscience - Lest, busy, we forget
Who shored us up when times were hard And made us better, yet!
Youngest, Bob, was gifted with a fine mechanic's hand
On any point of logic, He'll talk "to beat the band"!
Rain or shine, each Sunday found A quorum of the brood
At the Turnpike homestead For ball and talk and food.
The front-porch overflowing with the casual convention -
Rocking chairs to charm the way through all "bones of contention!"
We were just rapscallions, then The grownups such a din!
"Good Talk", a world of wonder where our stars had popped us in!
"And who's up next for Governor?" "And the city mayor?"
"Is it prince or crook we're voting In to boss the players?"
"And who's the Home-run leader, now, In our New York Yankees?"
"Will they beat 'dem bums' again Or send us for our hankies?"
In summertime we'd take our turn At Grandma's house to stay
Creating summer memories That warm us till this day.
The rooster's crow alarm clock And feet on icy floor...
A warm and smiling breakfast And soon right out the door.
My morning walk with Grandpa White-haired and with cane
Along the flagstone backyard path That led to wooded lane.
The special-ness of morning! Grandpa's hand for mine!
How blessed and graced to know it ! A special trusting time.
"Where we going, Grandpa?" " Off to Praying Rock.
There we'll say the Rosary And with our God we'll talk."
Uphill, the winding pathways Led to a Grampa's tree,
And "Praying Rock" placed at its foot...A help for bended knee.
A simple cross carved on it's trunk, A prayerful perfect place!
To know the Lord's own sweet delight And thank Him for His grace!
The Holy moment passing, Once more we'd take the path
Away from woodsy silence, To Grandma's welcome laugh!
End page one -
Imageclick for the conclusion of the Saga of a Little WhiteHouse