The Honsaker Tombstone

Honsaker Tombstone

The Honsaker Tombstone  (Childhood Details Collection)

Who knows the tales that could be told

Of goings on behind the stones

In the dark after church on any Sunday night

Children loved to play among those stones

Behind our church in the cemetery

Stood the biggest marble stone I ever saw

Seven feet tall five feet wide two feet thick

Two ledge around the bottom eight inches wide

The Honsaker Tombstone stood out above the rest

A place to play and a great to hide

My friend Jimmy told tales of making out

With a girl named Marion behind that stone

Little children love to walk on its ledge

Hide and seek and games of tag in the dark

We squealed and hollered as we ran and played

Teens walked slowly hand in hand in the dark

No need to fear falling in a grave

The plots were all filled

Digging moved further up the hill

If those stones could talk

Who knows what tales they’d tell


Photo: Phil Roth







Chocolate Drops and Hardtack

Children love getting boxes of candy. Each Christmas, when I was young, our church had a Christmas program where the Sunday School Children were given parts we called “pieces” to recite.  Christmas Carols were sung and sometimes they dressed up in house coats for acting out the parts of Mary and Joseph and the Wise Men and Shepherds.  At the end of the service my father would pass out boxes of chocolates along with an Apple and a big Navel Orange to each person.  The candy boxes were put together by our family a few days before. It is a very special Christmas memory.

Chocolate Drops and Hardtack  (Childhood Details Collection)

Every Christmas we had a program and treats

Where children gathered to say their piece

Of wise men and Shepherds and Baby Jesus

Cute voices and smiles they always pleased us

Each year the words were much the same

Children emerged different but cute once again

Songs and carols filled the air

Everyone who came was glad to be there

At the end of each service treats were passed ‘round

Children waited anxiously with nary a sound

An apple an orange and a box of candy

Put together at our house by the preacher and family

Flat cardboards with pictures of camels and angels

Became boxes for candy when bent ‘to right angles

A string on top made them easy to carry

Rounded lids over lapped and ends were married

Chocolate drops and hardtack sorted and laid out

Gum drops and whole walnuts finished them out

Ends folded and crisscrossed to hold it all in

A hundred or more for everyone who attends

A special time for all and a simple treat

Topped off the season and kept us all sweet


Bing Photo:



Back Porch


Dwight on the back porch 001

The Back Porch      (Childhood Details Collection)

One of my favorite places when I was young

Our back porch a place for fun

The old white swing with a hundred thousand miles

Back and forth it went and the squeak was loud

Shelling peas snapping beans cutting apples for a pie

And then squealing with delight as I sailed on by

Paul Sanford and Phil at Masontown

For three generations we used the chairs

Metal ones blue and yellow outlasted my time there

Traveled all the way to my house when Mom needed care

Haircuts on the stool while stories were told

Grapes eaten from bunches eating all I could hold

Under the porch our lawn mowers kept

Not power but push ‘cause the grass never slept

The trellis on the end covered with vines

Morning Glory blossoms opened each morning time

Morning Glory 001

Two concrete steps led up from the sidewalk

A wide metal scraper helped me get the mud off

A place for my bike to stay out of the rain

When I got my new one with shiny chrome and bling

My pop stretched out after a hard day of working

Seemed like the back porch was perfect for relaxing

Before the time of cool air conditioning

The back porch was the place on cool summer evenings


*Photo from the family album:

~Me sitting on the back porch step at age 2:

~My oldest brother holding my youngest brother in front of the back porch & cistern

*Photo of Morning Glory  – Dwight L. Roth

Little Henry

Henry Padlo & Dwight Roth April 1955 001

This photo shows my childhood friend Henry and me on our way to school. He was in first grade and I was in second. The picture was taken by my mother, just before we left to catch the school bus. We spent our young summers together during our primary school years. We got along remarkably well. We loved digging in the dirt and pretending to mine coal. The coal industry was active all around us. We had few toys, so we had to use our imaginations.  We had a wonderful time.

Little Henry   (Childhood Details Collection)

Little Henry was my best friend

When I was six or seven through ten

My neighbor Henry lived across the street

Our times together were hard to beat

Playing Superheroes, Cowboys, and Indians

The Lone Ranger, Rifle Man, and Rin Tin Tin

Henry’s Black and white TV brought it all in

We loved our summers running in the woods

Our fueled imaginations made us believe we could

Do anything be anything we wanted to be

Little Henry and I did everything together

Baseball cards, Marvel Comics, and Indian feathers

Played baseball with brother Larry and neighbor Donn

Sometimes Alvin and Leroy came along

Playing football together in Kerchner’s field

Banging heads and tackling till we had to yield

We headed home for supper our moms were calling

Running carefully to keep from falling

Big Henry and Theresa Little Henry’s parents

A finer pair not found anywhere around us

We had great fun till I was twelve

A paper route and new interests

Took us down different trails

But memories of those early years

Playing cowboys in the woods

Are the best anyone could ever wish for

I treasure them and long for more

Some have friends drawn from imagination

I had Little Henry who was alive and kicking


Photo: from our family album.

The Poetry of Harvest


I came home yesterday to see the farmer across the road had his combines running. They were half way through and the dust clouds filled the sky. The grain was pouring into the hopper and almost to the top. It was a beautiful site to see. I got my camera and went back to the field to take these photos. When I came home later that evening there were three combines running trying to beat the dark.   Three tractor trailers we also standing by to take the grain. It was truly poetry in motion to watch how our grain is harvested and shipped to be stored for our food. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. No further words are needed!

















Photos: Dwight L. Roth

A Father Who Cared

Dwight & Pop

My father was a person who cared deeply about others. He was a minister, husband, and family man. He has been gone since 1982, but his memory is still fresh in my mind. When I was young, I had difficulty reading so he brought me Illustrated Classics to read, hoping it would encourage me to read more. He was a good listener who listened to me go on and on. He had little response that I can recall, but somehow I felt he cared about what I was saying. I loved working side by side with him in the garden, cleaning the chicken house, and delivering eggs to customers.  He had a heart of love for the people he served and that core value has been engrained in the person I have become. I am very thankful for my father who cared, a Godly man who never new a stranger.

A Father who Cared

My father a flower blooming

in the cracked sidewalk of humanity

Servant and Shepherd

Bringing comfort and joy to others

Minister of God’s mercy to the poor

To all who listened and heard

He brought the Light of salvation

A friend to all

A sacrifice of love on the altar of Grace

Husband Father and Friend

Always ready to listen

Ready to help in my time of need

Encouraging me to do my best

His life touched the hearts of many

He knew the importance of kindness


Every act of kindness is a flower blooming

in the cracked sidewalk of humanity

Be that flower… show kindness today

Photo: from the family album


Playing Marbles


When I was in elementary school I loved to shoot marbles. We always referred to it as playing marbles.  We had a variety of circle games we played in the coal cinders on the school yard. Shooting for each others’ marbles was always a challenge. It was not unusual for a good shooter to clean another person out of all his marbles.  I guess this is where the term “loosing your marbles” came from. Sometimes someone showed up with a big steel ball bearing. We did not like playing with them. The weight gave them an extra advantage! The fascination with marbles has continued throughout all these years. I still like to pick up a marble, when I find one and add it to my toy box stash for the grandchildren.

Playing Marbles   (Childhood Details Collection)

Cat’s eyes, steelies, and milky colored marbles

Filled my pockets stretched my drawstring bag

So much fun shooting them into the circle

Hitting your neighbor’s collecting his stash


Using the steel one to me seemed like cheating

Those who had them were almost always winning

Swirling beauties of green and blue

Big ones little ones and solid ones too


Every now and then coming down to the prized one

Winning that marble always great fun

Marbles forever rattle around in my drawer

On marble rollers, Chinese Checkers, and so much more

Into the fish tank to lay on the floor

Shiny orbs of glass kept us begging for more

Marbles still reside in our toy box for the kids


Grandchildren and strangers come lift the lid

Spying the can that rattles when they shake

Loving to roll them hearing the noise they make


Photos: Dwight L. Roth

Chicken Pickin’


My father raised a hundred leghorn chickens every year. I remember feeding and caring for them when they arrived as chicks and then gathering eggs and feeding them each day. When they quit laying eggs my father would choose some of them to be killed and cleaned for eating. We sold eggs and dressed chickens to customers in town. The process of picking (plucking) chickens as we called it was a regular routine at our house. It was an accepted and understood part of life.

Chicken Pickin’    {Childhood Details Collection)

One vivid memory that comes to mind

Is picking chickens in our back yard

Old hens were culled and sent to the block

One chop of the hatchet and they would flop

Then into the bucket of scalding hot water

To loosen the feathers as the skin grew hotter

Wet soggy feathers pulled out all around

Till the bird was naked and feathers on the ground

Then into the kitchen and singed on the burner

Our old gas stove cleaned the hair off smoother

A very foul smell no pun intended

When tiny hairs burned smells really offended

Into the kitchen sink,,, cut, cleaned, and prepared

Washed and wrapped up for customers to share

Saving the giblets to be fried in a pan

Heart, Kidneys, and Gizzards for a snack was the plan

Most people in our generation don’t have a clue

What it takes to bring chicken to me and you


Web photo:


Our Cistern

Paul Sanford and Dwight with our goat

The cistern was an important part of our household. The well water we drank was too orange for washing clothes, so we used the rainwater from the house roof.  We loved to play on the cistern, climbing all over it and sitting on top.  The plastered finish did not hold up and flaked off in big chunks. You don’t see them much any more. Everything is now piped in for drinking and household use. For me it is a very good memory of my childhood.

Rain Water Cistern     (Childhood Details Collection)

Rising from the earth sitting next to our porch

A concrete bowl capped our cistern

Provided water for our house hold use

And water to wash clothes in


An acned finish flaking with age

Made it easy to climb on when we played

A brick wall inside divided the pool

Semi-filtered seepage let water pass through

From rushing intake to calm output pool


Slate roof rain water fed angled downspouts

Transporting water and soot from our coal furnace

Dust from farmer’s fields and smoke from coke ovens


Dirt settled to the bottom and re-stirred with every rain

After the downpour it settled back again

Water for washing not for drinking

When dry weather came we  hauled water in

Keeping clothes washed and our bodies clean


A great place to play with our little pet goat

Agile as a rock-climber he was no joke

Butting my head with concussion blows

Running wherever his little chain let him go


Two lids on top let us look down inside

Dark brackish water with mysteries to hide

Small round hooks embedded in the top

Made it easy to grab when set aside with a plop


Cisterns are long a thing of the past

With piped in water that fills every glass

But it’s an interesting invention as old as time

Preserved precious water we used all the time


Photos: from Family Album





The Old Iron Pump

pump 001

Our water came from a cast iron pump in the back yard. Since I could not find a pump picture on line that matched the one we had I attempted to sketch one so you could see what I am writing about. The pump furnished our drinking water for many years. When I was in elementary school, We had an electric pump and a tank installed in the basement. It was hooked up to the cold water line only since it was hard water with a lot of orange iron in it. We had a cistern with rain water from the roof for bathing and washing clothes.

The Old Iron Pump  –  (Childhood Details Collection)

Under the grape arbor beyond our back porch

Stands a sculptor of cast iron like liberty’s torch

A simple machine brings the flow from below

Filling our bucket or pitcher to go

The iron pump sits on a long hollow root

Extending all the way down to the deep water boot

A weighted handle helps do my job

I raise up the handle and push down the bulb

One pump two pumps three pumps and four

Out of the spout fresh water pours

A triangle hook holds the bucket in place

When it’s full it’s heavy as a Mt. Rushmore face

Amazing gizmo this great invention

Works really well if I pay attention

The water is “hard”  a flavorless orange tint

Leaving rings where it stands and stains in the sink


Sketch: Dwight L. Roth