"Poems and Things, Wabasha County, Minnesota"


The Story Tellers
The Truth On The Tree
The Elusive Ancestor
To My Children
Memory Lane
My Elusive Kinsman
I'm My Own Grandpa
The Generations Mystery
Fender Skirts

Author Unknown
Contributed by Bill Wisen

We are the chosen. In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors, to put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, a breathing of life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us, "Tell our story!" So, we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, "You have a wonderful family ~ you would be proud of us?" How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying, "I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh." It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish and how they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought for and some died for to make us and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth. Without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach, that we might be born who we are ~ that we might remember them. So, we do.

With love and caring we scribe each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of whom we are. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family story tellers.

That is why I do my family genealogy and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those whom we had never known before.

We are the story tellers.

by Barbara Koska Timm

Be wise as you choose
The mate of your youth,
Don't leave this decision to fate,

Or your partner may change
And grow horribly strange,
And your feelings of love turn to hate!

You may beg and coerce
As your marriage grows worse,
You may plead and cajole all in vain.

As your marriage collapses
Into nightmare mishapses,
You hope he gets hit by a train.

At the end of the road
You shrug off the load.
And, signing the papers, you're free.

Then you find out the truth,
When you search out your "Roots"
He's still there on your family tree!

by Merrell Kenworthy

I went searching for an ancestor,
I cannot find him still.
He moved around from place to place
and did not leave a will.

He married where a courthouse burned.
He mended all his fences,
and avoided any man who came
to take the U.S. Census.

He always kept his luggage packed,
this man who had no fame,
And every 20 years or so,
this rascal changed his name.

His parents came from Europe.
They should be on some list
of passengers to the U.S.A.,
but somehow they got missed.

And no one else in this whole world
is searching for this man.
So, I play geneasolitaire
to find him if I can.

I'm told he's buried in a plot,
with tombstone he was blessed;
but weather took engraving,
and some vandals took the rest.

He died before the county clerk
decided to keep records.
No Family Bible has emerged,
in spite of all my efforts,

To top it off, this ancestor,
who caused me many groans,
just to give me one more pain
betrothed a girl named Jones.

Author Unknown
Contributed by Bill Wisen

A little house with three bedrooms and one car on the street,
A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat.

In the kitchen on the wall we only had one phone,
And no need for recording things, someone was always home.

We only had a living room where we would congregate,
Unless it was at mealtime in the kitchen where we ate.

We had no need for family rooms or extra rooms to dine,
When meeting as a family those two rooms would work out fine.

We only had one TV set, and channels maybe two,
But always there was one of them with something worth the view.

For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like a chip,
And if you wanted flavor there was Lipton's onion dip.

Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook,
And nothing can compare to snacks in Betty Crocker's book.

The snacks were even healthy with the best ingredients,
No labels with a hundred things that make not a bit of sense.

Weekends were for family trips or staying home to play,
We all did things together -- even go to church to pray.

When we did our weekend trips depending on the weather,
No one stayed at home because we liked to be together.

Sometimes we would separate to do things on our own,
But we knew where the others were without our own cell phone.

Then there were the movies with your favorite movie star,
And nothing can compare to watching movies in your car.

Then there were the picnics at the peak of summer season,
Pack a lunch and find some trees and never need a reason.

Get a baseball game together with all the friends you know,
Have real action playing ball -- and no game video.

Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend,
And didn't need insurance or a lawyer to defend?

The way that he took care of you or what he had to do,
Because he took an oath and strived to do the best for you.

Remember going to the store and shopping casually,
And when you went to pay for it you used your own money?

Nothing that you had to swipe or punch in some amount,
Remember when the cashier person had to really count?

Remember when we breathed the air; it smelled so fresh and clean,
And chemicals were not used on the grass to keep it green.

The milkman used to go from door to door,
And it was just a few cents more than going to the store.

There was a time when mailed letters came right to your door,
Without a lot of junk mail ads sent out by every store.

The mailman knew each house by name and knew where it was sent;
There were not loads of mail addressed to "present occupant."

Remember when the words "I do" meant that you really did,
And not just temporarily 'til someone blows their lid.

T'was no such thing as "no one's fault; we just made amistake,"
There was a time when married life was built on give and take.

There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take,
And you would know the kind of car, the model and the make.

They didn't look like turtles trying to squeeze out every mile;
They were streamlined, white walls, fins, and really had some style.

One time the music that you played whenever you would jive,
Was from a vinyl, big-holed record called a forty-five.

The record player had a post to keep them all in line,
And then the records would drop down and play one at a time.

Oh sure, we had our problems then, just like we do today,
And always we were striving, trying for a better way.

And every year that passed us by brought new and greater things,
We now can even program phones with music or with rings.

Oh, the simple life we lived still seems like so much fun,
How can you explain a game, just kick the can and run?

And why would boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes,
And for a nickel red machines had little bottled Cokes?

This life seemed so much easier and slower in some ways,
I love the new technology but I sure miss those days.

So time moves on and so do we, and nothing stays the same,
But I sure love to reminisce and walk down memory lane.

Author Unknown
Contributed by Bill Wisen

When I spill some food on my nice clean dress
Or maybe forget to tie my shoes,
Please be patient and perhaps reminisce
About the many hours I spent with you,
When I taught you how to eat with care,
Plus tying laces and your numbers too,
Dressing yourself and combing your hair.
Those were precious hours spent with you,

So when I forget what I was about to say,
Just give me a minute.....or maybe two,
It probably wasn't important anyway,
And I would much rather listen just to you.
If I tell the story one more time,
And you know the ending through and through,
Pleae remember your first nursery rhyme
When I rehearsed it a hundred times with you.

When my legs are tired and it's hard to stand,
Or walk the stady path that I would like to do,
Please take me carefully by the hand,
And guide me now as I often did for you.

Author Unknown
Contributed by Bill Wisen

Alas, my elusive kinsman
You've led me quite a chase
I thought I'd found your courthouse
But the Yankees burned the place.

You always kept your bags packed
Although you had no fame,
And just for the fun of it
Twice you changed your name.

You never owed any man,
Or at least I found no bills
In spite of eleven offspring
You never left a will.

They say our name's from Europe
Came state-side on a ship.
Either they lost the passenger list
Or granddad gave them the slip.

I'm the only one looking
Another searcher I can't find
I pray (maybe that's his father's name)
As I go out of my mind.

They said you had a headstone
In a shady plot
I've been there twenty times,
And can't even find the lot.

You never wrote a letter
Your Bible we can't find
It's probably in some attic
Out of sight and out of mind.

You first married a Jackson
And just to set the tone
The other four were Sarahs
And everyone a Jones.

You cost me two fortunes
One of which I did not have
My wife, my house and Fido ~
Gosh, how I miss that yellow lab.

But somewhere you slipped up,
Ole Boy, somewhere you left a track
And if I don't find you this year
Well ~ next year I'll be back!

author unknown

Many, many years ago
When I was twenty-three,
I was married to a widow
Who was pretty as could be.

This widow had a grownup daughter
Who had hair of red,
My father fell in love with her
And soon they, too, were wed.

This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother,
For she was my father's wife.

To complicate the matters worse,
Although it brought me joy,
I soon became the father
Of a bouncing baby boy.

My little baby then became
A brother-in-law to dad.
And so became my uncle,
Though it made me very sad.

For if he was my uncle,
Then that also made him brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter
Who, of course, was my step-mother.

My father's wife then had a son
Who kept them on the run.
And he became my grandchild
For he was my daughter's son.

My wife is now my mother's mother
And it makes me blue ~
Because, although she is my wife,
She is my grandma, too.

If my wife is my grandmother,
Then I am her grandchild.
And every time I think of it,
It simply drives me wild.

For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother,
I am my own grandpa.

by Barbara Koska Timm

First, may we agree on some basics? Am I correct when I say that it takes two biological parents to produce one offspring and likewise four grandparents and so on and so forth? Excellent! And, for the sake of illustration, may we agree that a generation spans approximately forty years? Thank you. Now, let us establish some criteria and enter some data:

1That's me!
2My two parents
3My four grandparents (double the previous entry)
4My eight great-grandparents (double again)
5My 16 gggparents
6My 32 ggggparents
7My 64 gggggparents
8My 128 ggggggparents
9My 256 gggggggparents
10My 512 ggggggggparents
11My 1024 gggggggggparents
12My 2048 ggggggggggparents
13My 4096 gggggggggggparents
14My 8192 ggggggggggggparents
15My 16384 gggggggggggggparents
16My 32768 ggggggggggggggparents
17My 65536 gggggggggggggggparents
18My 131072 ggggggggggggggggparents
19My 262144 gggggggggggggggggparents
20My 524288 ggggggggggggggggggparents

So, in barely 800 years it has taken five hundred twenty-four thousand, two hundred eighty-eight souls to make little old me. Amazing! How many would it take from Christ's time? From Moses' time? I have heard that we were heading toward a population explosion. No, most definitely not! We have come from one! If Stephen Hawking is listening, I'd like your take on this. You seem to be pretty good with numbers!

Now, shall we talk about the Judeo/Christian view, to which I also ascribe, that we have all descended from just two parents: Adam and Eve?

Contributed by Bill Wisen

Fender skirts!
What a great blast from the past! I hadn't thought about fender skirts in years. When I was a kid, I considered it such a funny term. Made me think of a car in a dress.

Thinking about fender skirts started me thinking about other words that quietly disappear from our language with hardly a notice. Like "curb feelers" and "steering knobs." Since I'd been thinking of cars, my mind naturally went that direction first. You kids will probably have to find some elderly person over 50 to explain some of these terms to you.

Remember "Continental kits?" They were rear bumper extenders and spare tire covers that were supposed to make any car as cool as a Lincoln Continental.

When did we quit calling them "emergency brakes?" At some point "parking brake" became the proper term. But I miss the hint of drama that went with "emergency brake."

I'm sad, too, that almost all the old folks are gone who would call the accelerator the "foot feed."

Here's a phrase I heard all the time in my youth but never anymore - "store-bought." Of course, just about everything is store-bought these days. But once it was bragging material to have a store-bought dress or a store-bought bag of candy.

"Coast to coast" is a phrase that once held all sorts of excitement and now means almost nothing. Now we take the term "worldwide" for granted. This floors me.

On a smaller scale, "wall-to-wall" was once a magical term in our homes. In the '50s, everyone covered their hardwood floors with, wow, wall-to-wall carpeting! Today, everyone replaces their wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood floors. Go figure.

When's the last time you heard the quaint phrase "in a family way?" It's hard to imagine that the word "pregnant" was once considered a little too graphic, a little too clinical for use in polite company. So we had all that talk about stork visits and "being in a family way" or simply "expecting."

Apparently "brassiere" is a word no longer in usage. I said it the other day and my daughter cackled. I guess it's just "bra" now. "Unmentionables" probably wouldn't be understood at all.

It's hard to recall that this word was once said in a whisper - "divorce." And no one is called a "divorcee" anymore. Certainly not a "gay divorcee." Come to think of it, "confirmed bachelors" and "career girls" are long gone, too.

Most of these words go back to the '50s, but here's a pure-'60s word I came across the other day - "rat fink." Ooh, what a nasty put-down!

Here's a word I miss - "percolator." That was just a fun word to say. And what was it replaced with? "Coffeemaker." How dull. Mr. Coffee, I blame you for this.

I miss those made-up marketing words that were meant to sound so modern and now sound so retro. Words like "DynaFlow" and "ElectraLuxe." Introducing the 1963 Admiral TV, now with "SpectraVision!"

Food for thought - Was there a telethon that wiped out lumbago? Nobody complains of that anymore. Maybe that's what castor oil cured, because I never hear mothers threatening their kids with castor oil anymore.

Some words aren't gone, but are definitely on the endangered list. The one that grieves me most - "supper."

Save a great word. Invite someone to supper. Discuss fender skirts

Small Graphics From JOD's Genealogy Graphics

Wabasha County MNGenWeb Project
Temporary County Coordinator:
Shirley Cullum

Updated October 6, 2016
MNGenWeb State Coordinator:
Shirley Cullum & Timothy Stowell

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