When We Were Young
On a personal level, I feel this to be some of my best work. It holds strong memories of my childhood. It is also some of my earliest writing after joining the SOUP. I had to pay Premium Membership just to post it in one listing. I hope you find something in the poem that touches your heart. RAY
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When We Were Young
When We Were Young
He left for work each morning,
Wearing steel-toed boots and a tin hat.
He took long strides that were three times
The length of mine.
In one hand he carried a lunch pail and a thermos.
The other hand was empty,
Like his wallet.
He returned each day with the smell of oil
Embedded in his clothes.
Down the grease and gravel road
We watched him as he strode.
We ran to meet him with the football in our arms.
“Won’t you kick it for us Daddy?”
“Would you kick it for us,,,please?”
He’d take the ball and punt it in a long, high spiral.
By the time we could go get it,
He disappeared to take his shower.
In the house, Mama was cooking.
Daddy liked to eat at five.
A roustabout worked hard
And he had quite an appetite.
Once, we took turns wearing
His greasy boots and bright tin hat.
Mama took our picture.
It pleased him to think that
Someday we’d fill those monster boots.
For now, we looked like clowns.
We all laughed.
On Sunday we’d go to church
Where Dad taught teens the golden rule.
He tried to be an example
They could follow.
He didn’t claim to be the perfect Christian.
He was however,
The model we all followed.
On Sunday afternoon, dad went to the package store
To buy a cold six-pack.
When he came back we’d meet
Him at the door with hope
The sack held something more.
If we were lucky, and he had the money,
The sack might hide a Sunday Treat.
Each night after we’d all been fed
And showered, we watched TV.
Sometimes we’d run hot water for Dad
To soak his feet.
We scratched his back and massaged his head
with Baker’s Best.
Then, off to bed.
Nighty Night Mama!
Nighty Night, Daddy!
Sometimes a hug, sometimes a shout
We went to our room and
Turned the lights out,
Pretending we were ready to sleep.
We played roller derby and hid under the covers
Hoping the big, bad wolf
Would never find us!
We told stories and laughed and giggled.
Then one would poot and
We were all in trouble.
Daddy would say, “I’m bringing the belt!”
Then he’d give it a jiggle.
He kept it close to the bed
In case it was needed.
When morning came, we hurried to dress.
Mama was in the kitchen.
Scrambled eggs and sausage waited.
Bacon, when we were lucky.
Toast and milk were staples.
Sometimes we ate wheat puffs,
Malt-o-Meal or rice.
We walked to catch the school bus
No matter what the weather.
Sun, rain, sleet or snow
Out the door to the bus we’d go.
No! It wasn’t uphill both directions!
It wasn’t always fun,
But, I did live to write about it!
We wore wet clothes until they dried
And still made A’s on every assignment.
We walked on ice and sleet so slick
The cattle slipped and fell.
Then we’d laugh and fall.
Somehow we survived.
We lived through it all.
On Friday night’s we’d sing,
“Our boys will shine tonight,
Our boys will shine.”
We could see the football lights from the house
And couldn’t wait for the game.
The Warriors didn’t always win,
But, we never missed a game.
“When the sun comes up,
‘Til the moon goes down.”
“Our boys will shine.”
Saturday was wash day.
We loaded up the car and went to the laundry.
Sometimes we went to Grandma Bessie’s to wash.
One load at a time, it took all day.
We had to be quiet so we didn’t wake Uncle James.
Once, Ralph rolled my hand in the ringer!
That woke James up!
I remember Mama…
Always washing dishes,
Always cleaning the laundry,
Always helping with homework,
Always counseling, and
She taught us how to work
When she bought a sack of nails
And showed us how to drive them straight.
She made us pull the bent nails
And straighten them
So we didn’t waste a one.
We drove the sack that day
And had a lot of fun.
Mama taught us discipline
As well as dedication
She expected nothing in return.
Was our love, when we were young.
Now years have past
And Dad is gone,
He leaves five men to carry on:
“Stand tall, stride long and
Dance to no one else’s song.”
Mom, the Matriarch left alone,
Rules a vacant, empty home.
She waits to teach one final lesson
And all the while remembers…
When We Were Young.
Copyright © Ray Dillard