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When We Were Young

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Below is the poem entitled When We Were Young which was written by poet Ray Dillard. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Poet's Notes

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. Bye-Bye Daddy! 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 cooking, Always sweeping, Always washing dishes, Always cleaning the laundry, Always helping with homework, Always counseling, and Always pregnant! 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 And patience As well as dedication And love. She expected nothing in return. Her fortune 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

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  1. Date: 8/25/2013 8:32:00 AM
    Good morning Ray, ,CONGRATULATIONS!!! on having your poem Featured on the soups home page. enjoy your coming week. Always & Forever * Linda

  1. Date: 8/24/2013 6:19:00 PM
    Hi Ray, congratulations, on your featured poem of the week. Take Care ~SKAT~ :-)

  1. Date: 8/19/2013 12:24:00 PM
    sounds like such an awesome childhood, I felt as if I was there, watching him come home...shame the kids of today won't ever have that kind of fond memory...good piece, congrats on being featured! :)

  1. Date: 6/18/2013 1:39:00 PM
    I related to every single word of this wondrous story! Congratulations on your deserved win...

  1. Date: 6/13/2013 5:51:00 AM
    Congratulations, Ray! You have written a very comprehensive and meaningful walk down memory lane... David

  1. Date: 6/12/2013 6:52:00 PM
    Congrad's on your win. Light & Love

  1. Date: 6/12/2013 5:41:00 PM
    goodness, what an epic story this is, very vividly written, congrats on a deserved win :)

  1. Date: 6/12/2013 1:37:00 PM
    I have taken such great pleasure in reading this if being part of a family, where love, endurance, discipline, moral value, everything a kid should receive........was provided, ....and as ordinary as butter on bread. Except, that what we didn't know that it was all extraordinary.......and something marvelous! You are such a gifted story teller, Ray! :) Congratulations once again!

  1. Date: 6/11/2013 10:33:00 PM
    A very lovely write. Congrats on your well deserved win. AO

  1. Date: 3/22/2010 8:50:00 AM
    Can't wait for the next part !!!

  1. Date: 3/5/2010 2:51:00 PM
    Looks centered to me ;) Light & Love and you go guy!

  1. Date: 2/23/2010 9:48:00 AM
    I enjoyed that

  1. Date: 2/23/2010 8:22:00 AM
    Wheat Puffs, oooooh yeah.... I ate four mixing bowls worth yesterday..With a BIG spoon.. Great story my friend, can't wait for round two.....:JP]