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Paul's Place

By William L. Mansker


Note: William L. Mansker is the son of Gail Gibbons Mansker and Thurman Hayden Mansker of Wright County, MO. Thurman was the son of William Harry Mansker and the great-grandson of Michael W. Mansker.
The following poem was written in 1995 and sent to us by his niece, Vicki Finger , , who shared it with us. Thanks, Vicki!
Be sure to see the story, Mansker Family Stories -- The Early Years, by Gail Gibbons Mansker.

Paul's Place

The old place is still there
Disheveled now with time
Echoing still with memories
That brings about these rhymes

As I stroll around the old home place
Thinkin' about the bygone days
Memories come rushing back
Echoing in a time-dulled haze

Fond memories abound herein
Some sadder ones for sure
Emerging forth from boyhood times
Mid boyhood dreams' allure

Sleeping in the attic there
In winter's chilling wind
With naught but a thin tin roof above
Rattling lullabies on end

The old stove pipe 'twas the only heat
Fading quickly in the night
And breath formed crystals in the frigid air
Reading books in the dim bulb light

Comforters thick were the saving grace
That countered nature's bite
Naught but a nose by plan stuck out
To breathe throughout the night

Each day at dawn we'd rouse from sleep
To the sound of the poker raked
In the old stove's belly it rattled there
Clearing ashes from the grate

Soon we'd hear the roaring flue
As the morning logs 'came lit
We always stayed there bundled up
Till the warmth was felt from it

Then up we'd bounce, pull the cold jeans on
And hustle down the stair
To the warmth below and the bacon smells
That filled the morning air

Books in hand, we made the trek
Through blizzards, rain, or sleet
Down the drive to await the bus
Hopin' James had on the heat

After school each day, we'd saw firewood
To last till next day's night
With a few extra logs heaped on the pile
To get ahead of winter's plight

Hickory burned hottest, as I recall
But 'twas really hard and tough
Broke many a wedge, dulled many an axe
Trying to split that dad-blamed stuff

The easiest to bust was red oak
It split like a ringing bell
A single stroke from a tilted edge
Would release that woody smell

I remember Lavada Crismon
I fed her cows their daily lot
Traipsing the hollow to and fro
Gave lots of time for thought

Old George Cook took all my coins
In trade for .410 shells
Slugs, I loaded up for hunting
In the Whiskey Hollow dells

That buck was close enough to me
I could look into his eyes
And see the life force blazoned there
The round went off, but high

I must have blinked when firing
I have no sound defense
He was gone, just disappeared
I've not hunted since

I recall one time in the winter mud
When the Ford truck wouldn't go
We jacked it up, then pushed it off
It rolled through the mud so slow

Seems to me it took all week
Or, at least all day I guess
To get that truck to the top of the drive
And push it off the crest

The old truck started rolling slow
With everyone pushing hard
Dad jumped in and popped the clutch
We all rode back to the yard

Somewhere around lie the crumbled walls
Of the old stock watering tank
Hand built by sweat and muscle
Where it is I've drawn a blank

I had immortalized within one wall
(Perhaps for a briefer span)
A photograph for someone to find
At a future time of man

I remember one day when dad's arm broke
Cranking the old Case tractor
He made some splints, set the bones himself
He never was one for doctors

Things must have happened with him
Things that I don't understand
He had dreams of great design
And he was a caring man

But like most, he had his crutches
He really tied some on
Yielding some memories that aren't so good
But still they linger on

He could play most any thing
Guitar, mandolin, and more
The melody that I remember most
The haunting, Soldier's Joy

I pass the garden and flower beds
Still blooming after all these years
A solemn monument to recollect
Mom's work as the engineer

Many more's the memories
I have of Paul's old place
The life and love of one family
In one part of time and space