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Monday, November 27, 2006

I Hear Them All




One of the many pleasure's of the long weekend was reading some of the letters & correspondence between my Great Grandma Schroeder & my Great Uncle Willis that my dad showed me when Willis was in the army, just after World War II ended. Willis died in a plane crash in 1947. He was 19.

As you can imagine, these letters spark the imagination on so many levels & you can learn so much from them. Each letter is a small, simple story that conveys a deep & meaningful sense of family & of community. Topics that were discussed in all of the letters I've read so far (I think there's alot more I haven't read yet, it makes me excited for the next visit home) include the crops, the weather, baseball, the neighbors, church & family. This is not to say that everybody was perfect, there's gossip about neighbors & talk of people getting "plastered" & "stewed" close to church.

When I read these letters, I unconciously paint a picture for myself of the person writing them from what I know about Britton (the town from where they were written) & from what little I know about my great grandparents. My picture always reverts to a small wooden table in a kitchen much like my Oma & Opa's, with a transistor radio close by airing the Tigers' game. I picture the Ridge Road, as if it were the center of the universe for those who lived in Britton. I know the Ridge pretty well, having ridden on a tractor down it many times as a kid with my dad & Opa.

Unfortunately, the picture that lacks from the letters is Willis' point of view, as the letters were sent back to his family along with the rest of his personal effects. How did he feel about being overseas? Did he get along with the rest of the people in his company? Was he homesick? Was he proud of his work?

I can only speculate about these people from things I know. The letters talk alot about Clarence & Rosie (my grandparents, Oma & Opa as we call them). Willis was the next oldest brother, & I imagine that Opa was a great big brother, who probably played pranks & tortured his younger brothers, yet taught them all kinds of things about baseball, about farming & about life. I can only imagine what it would be like to have Oma as a sister-in-law, I'm sure that she treated each & every one of Opa's brothers like they were her own brothers.

I want to know more about these things in a way that I never thought about. I want to know what it was like to live in the town of Britton all of your life. Whenever my Dad & I would drive through Britton he would tell me all about the people who lived at certain houses & he'd give me stories about each family. I want to hear more of these stories. I want to know about what it's like to live in one place your entire life, the people you come across, the histories of the people who live there, the way you interact with each other, the way you help your neighbors. I want to know more about my great grandparents. I want to know more about my Great Uncle Willis. I want to know more about Oma & Opa as they were before I was born. I want to know what it was like to be in Oma's classroom, or ride on Opa's schoolbus.

I can't wait to read the rest of the letters.

By the way, I miss Oma. She embodied goodness & kindness like nobody I've ever met. For the life of me, I can't recall a single bad word she said about anybody or a time when she didn't have that great smile of hers. She had a love for life that shined in everything she did.

In other news, I put up a Christmas tree this year, I haven't had one in a couple of years. It's a doozy, a bit full at the bottom, but with a good shape. The decorations were skillfully picked out by Christie, although I made the game time decision of switching the colors from silver & red to gold & red (it matches my living room better). Maybe I'll post a picture of it, someday.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

I Hear Them All-Old Crow Medicine Show

I hear the crying of the hungry
in the deserts where they're
wandering

Hear them crying for heaven's
own benevolence upon them
Hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
to the crooked wits of tyrants
when they call

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages
and the roar of burning paper
all the crimes in acquisitions turn
to air & ash & vapor
and the rattle of the shackle far
beyond emancipators
and the loneliest who gather
in their stalls.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

So while you sit & whistle dixie
with your money & your power
I can hear the flowers a growin' in
the rubble of the towers
I hear the leaders quit their lyin'
I hear babies quit their cryin'
I hear the soldiers quit their dyin', one
and all.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah's waterfall
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah
sleepin' at the feet of Buddha
and the prophets from Elijah to the
old paiute wovoka
take their places at their table
when their called

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

Most of the Time-Bob Dylan, San Jose, 1992

Muzzle of Bees-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Sharp Cutting Wings (Song to a Poet)-Lucinda Williams, Happy Woman Blues

Theologians-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Happy Monday, friends...

andrew

4 comments:

Heidi said...

It is so interesting that you would blog about that today. I was just thinking about Oma on the way to pick up the kids from Mom and Dads tonight! Thanks for the interesting questions, we'll have to get Opa and Aunt Mary rolling on some of those stories next time we see them.

Mary said...

Amdu I will have to re read this when I'm not in tears. What a gift you have to be able to write like that. I have not read the letters yet and so want to. I am overwhelmed with all the hussle and bussle thanks for the time to think about things beyond myself

Pam said...

I love that you care so much about all that information. I bet you could spend a month talking to Opa and still not know it all. Maybe these things could be the basis for your first novel.

Pam said...

By the way, I don't know if you got to read it yet, but there was a letter from someone in Willis' company that told how much everyone liked him and how he was such a positive influence on the rest of the group. From that standpoint he sounds a lot like Opa.

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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...