Time Capsule

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Heidelberg Castle

Vined walls reek with lost stories

Untold days of old

Ghosts, wars, knights, and lovers..

Time capsule never opened

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Photo of Heidelberg Castle: Dwight L. Roth

Today at d’Verse, Frank Tassone introduced us to three types of five line Japanese poems: Tanka (feelings), Kyota people/humor, and Gogyohka    (any five line poem). They often follow the 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern but may vary.   I chose the last one for my poem today.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

 

History Repeating Itself

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History Repeating Itself

This is a spinoff from a poem I read this morning, written by Mary at d’verse. Her poem spoke of volcanic words that flow relentlessly losing their meaning and leaving souls with collateral damage. This reminded me of the way words are spoken across all genres over and over again, by politicians, cultures, religions, and the media. Each new generation puts its own spin on the story, but never seems to tell it all.

Words // like sand in an hour- glass 

Flow with constant hum

So little restraint

Saying what’s happening

But not what’s going on!

Each generation flipping the glass

Repeating the same clichés

Espousing “truth” // with the same lies

Flowing with constant hum

     …and little restraint

Telling us what’s happening

Never what’s really going on…

As History // once again

Repeats itself

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Photo:  https://ablogtowatch.com

This is Mary’s poem if you would like to read it:

https://mehflowers.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/lost-words/

 

Girl Talk

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Girl friends share their dreams

Whisper their secret crush

Bare their souls as one

Sixteen seems a long way off

When you are only thirteen

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

History

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History

Word of mouth stories

Passed down through centuries

Of human kind

Representing events and actions

Showing how critical choices

Helped or harmed men and women

Of diverse origins and cultures

Recording these events as history

Chosen and written for

Future generations to read

And imagine what actually happened

That was not told or only inferred

Wondering in their minds what

Layers of history were not recorded

Significant portions lost in the dust of time.

We pick and choose the history

Our children and grandchildren

Read and learn from…

The successes and mistakes

Of the past are there to help

Them learn and avoid

Repeating the evils men do.

Sadly few ever learn from the past

History continues to repeat itself

Generation after generation

Calling to mind the haunting question

Pete Seeger so simply asked…

“When will they ever learn

When will they… ever learn…”

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Publishing the Past Pt 4

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Here are a few more of the stories from my father in laws childhood collection from the 1930s. They were written when he was sixty-five. He is now eighty-nine and suffering from Alzheimer’s, I have transcribed them so they could be passed on to my grandchildren and beyond. He grew up near Ephrata, Pennsylvania. His mother died when he was four and his father remarried two years later.

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11.Playing in Grandpa Snavely’s Mill

Grandpa Hurst was a miller before I knew him. Grandpa White was a train conductor, but I never knew him. Grandpa Snavely was a miller also. I never really learned to know him because he never talked to his grandchildren. He was sort of a loner and did not converse much with anyone. He owned a large stone gristmill along the Hammer Creek.  Hammer Creek was so named because a hundred years ago or more there was a forge upstream from the mill.

First, let me tell you about the old mill along the Brunnerville-Clay Road. It still stands today (1992), but when I was a boy in 1935 it was already closed up and the machinery removed. The mill was three or four stories high and had wide expanses of hardwood flooring. The windows were all intact so it was well preserved. It was later converted into apartments.

Across the road is an old farm where my stepmother was born and where she spent her childhood, until her family moved upstream about a mile to the better mill.

The farmstead had a whitewashed two and a half story stone house that was rather small for such a family. Attached was a large, never painted, wash house summer kitchen.

Nearby was an old bank barn which was never painted and looked sort of black, especially when it rained. Uncle Charles Hollinger and Aunt Katie lived there with their family. When we visited Russel and Pearl and Jean and David, I sometimes went into the old mill or walked along the bank of the creek, but not often.

I learned to know about the Snavely Mill when my father married my stepmother in 1934. It was a prosperous place and was in operation for a very long time. The mill had a reputation for manufacturing very fine flour.

They also had two portable hammer mills mounted on trucks and four men went from farm to farm grinding cowfeed or “chop” for the farmer’s cattle.

The four and a half story stone building was very attractive and in complete repair. Behind it was a metal-clad granary about four stories high.

The Snavely family often came together for Sunday Dinner or just to visit. I think that may have happened because aunts: Nora, Jenny, and Anna still lived at home. With them lived a cousin Warren Snavely and a worker Lloyd Wideman.

When we went to visit them, there were many cousins and many interesting things to do. We could take walks along the dam or go swimming in the race. In the winter we went sledding down the road at a really high speed. Now I think it was very dangerous, but we grandchildren had such good times.

Many times after our big Sunday dinner, my cousins and I would play hide and seek in the mill. It is surprising that none of us ever got hurt. I think we all realized there were dangers there to avoid.

Grandpa Snavely also had a player piano. That seemed like a modern thing. They had many player rolls which could be loaded into the piano to make it play different songs.

A special time each summer was when everyone came home for “Snapper Soup!” Snapping turtles lived in the dam and if you put a stick in the water and teased them they would bite the stick and hang on. Only the uncles did that!

Another yearly event was when we went to see the night cactus bloom. It only bloomed once a year and did its blooming at night.

Beside their house were three unusual trees. They were persimmon trees, which were not very common in Pennsylvania. We tried tasting them once, but never again!!

Boat Rides on the Mill Pond
Grandpa Snavely’s gristmill was picturesque and so was the mill pond we called “the dam.” The mill was a four and a half story limestone building of good size, with a slate roof. I wish I could remember which year it was built, but it was old and had hardwood floors throughout.
The dam was wide and tapered down to twenty feet wide at the narrow end. It reached up and around the curve to the floodgates which could divert high water when a flood came.
In the winter we grandchildren sometimes went skating, but not very often. Perhaps once each summer or every other summer the grandchildren wanted to ride in Grandpa’s old wide bottom red and white boat which was always docked under the chicken house, which extended about ten feet over the water. There was always supposed to be a responsible adult along.
On a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon, about ten or twelve children climbed into the boat and we rowed up from the dam. I was about eleven at the time. I sat on the edge, the gunwale. The smaller children sat on the bench boards in the middle. No one had life jackets. Maybe they weren’t invented yet?
We were going slowly along the bank and the person up front, who was supposed to guide it, let it bump a lump of ground. The boat stopped immediately, and I rolled off into the water! I was scared and flailed about until someone grabbed my arm and pulled me up into the boat.
They said I was yelling, “Help me! Help me!!”
I climbed onto the bank all dripping wet and walked back around the pond to the house. I was embarrassed about it and just a little disgusted at whoever was supposed to be guiding the boat.

The Swimming Hole

In the old days there were no swimming pools. Even towns didn’t have them. When they did get one, we “Christians” wouldn’t think of going there. There were various swimming holes or dams where people could splash around in the muddy water and feel refreshed.

There was such a fun place about two miles from our home on Middle Creek, across from the Ivan Stauffer’s farm. A small dam about three feet high made it a nice place to swim. I only ever saw men and boys there. A rope hung from a high tree branch and there was a kids’ diving board from which we jumped into the three feet of water. One could hardly swim in this place, but it was special when Father took us there, perhaps three times a summer. Maybe that is why I never learned to swim as a boy.

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Photo of Dayton Mill: Dwight L. Roth

 

Publishing the Past

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 Childhood Stories … Growing up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania

By Paul H. White

The past couple of months I have been transcribing stories written by my wife’s father. He grew up in Ephrata, Pennsylvania in the 1930s. When he was sixty-five he decided to write stories he remembered from his childhood. His mother died when he was almost five years old. His father later remarried and he tells of the adjustments he had to make, getting used to a new step-mother. Most of his stories were short and rarely more than a page and a half. He hand typed forty- six stories and made copies for each of his four children.  He is now 89 years old and living in an Alzheimer’s unit in Edmonton, Alberta.  I felt these stories should be kept for grandchildren and beyond, so I decided to transcribe them to digital format and get them printed into books for our family.

Below is an example of one of his stories.

Selling Beans

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, and David was ten or eleven, Father and Mother decided a little extra income could be made selling extra things from the garden and field.

So on Thursday evenings we would get things ready to take to Ephrata. There would be beans, carrots, potatoes, flowers and whatever else was in season. The next morning we would ride with Father when he left for work at 7:30 AM. We had a 1932 Chevy. We would remove the back seat and put in our big six wheeler express wagon with green racks. Then we’d load the produce and drive three miles to where Father had a garage he rented, where he kept his car while he was at work.

Now it was up to David and me to go from house to house in all directions and knock or ring the bell telling what we were selling. We had a peck Measure and a half-peck measure to use to sell potatoes and beans, etc. Usually we could sell everything by 2:00 PM or so.  Then we would walk the three miles through Lincoln to our home in Weidmansville.

One week we had mainly green beans to sell, and everybody said they already had too many beans, so consequently we hardly sold anything from 8:00 to 12:00 noon. I said to David, “We will go up the hill to Spring Garden Street and if we don’t sell any beans we will go home right after lunch, especially since it was such a hot day.

We knocked on many doors, but no one pitied us so we started down the hill toward the garage. We had an idea that it would be fun to coast the whole way down on the sidewalk. I sat on the back corner with one foot out in case I needed to brake. I held the wagon tongue tightly to guide us. David somehow perched on the other back corner. The wagon was still loaded with boxes of green beans. The sidewalk was clear. Soon we gained more speed than expected. Suddenly we approached a driveway we didn’t know about. It had a one inch step up in the concrete. Without warning the front of the wagon jumped into the air, and the front wheels turned sharply to the left. There was a crash, rattle and BANG! We rammed the corner of the two foot high cement wall around someone’s yard. The beans scattered in seven or eight hundred different directions. The metal peck measure kept rolling in a straight line down the hill telling all the neighbors something strange was happening. David and I picked ourselves up from the cement. David told me quietly, “I can’t find my shoe.”  I began picking up the beans. Some boys came and asked David what he was looking for. “My shoe,” he told them. One said, “I saw something land on the street, beyond the parked car.” Sure enough, there was his shoe on the street.

So we returned to the garage, where the car was parked, with the crashed wagon and the bruised beans. We left it there and walked home.

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If you wish to read more of my books I have published on Amazon Kindle click on the Amazon Kindle site below:

https://www.amazon.com/Dwight-Roth/e/B017HW5AHG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

 

My New Book

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My Grandfather Roth lived almost a hundred years ago. I was five when he died, so I did not remember a personal connection to him.  In 1882, when he was six years old, he emigrated with his parents from Switzerland. He was a concrete mason by trade and was very creative in his many interests. One of those interests was raising skunks! He descented them and sold them for pets and for the skins.  There were many other stories of his life that only had a sentence or two in a family history. I decided I wanted to take those small pieces that I could gather from my oldest cousin, and other family members, and embellish them with my own imagination to make a set of stories of his life. This book is the 108 page fictional biography that I compiled as a result.

I am including the story of the skunks for you to read if interested. See what you think.

Skunks

I can just imagine the day my grandfather, Christian Roth, told his wife Linda, “I think I am going to raise skunks and sell them for pets!”  That must have been a real shocker for her. Being a very expressive person, I am sure she probably exclaimed, “Now why in the world would you want to do a thing like that?”  She made it very clear that she did not want skunks anywhere near her house.

Grandpa and Grandma Roth lived in a two story frame house, surrounded by shady maples, at the south edge of Allensville, Pennsylvania. On their property stood a small barn, along with a few outbuildings, space for a garden, and a few small fields behind the barn.

Grandpa was a concrete finisher by trade. He did a great variety of concrete and block work for farmers in Big Valley. In his down time he pursued a great variety of personal interests, one of which was raising skunks. He believed that he could raise skunks, by removing their scent glands.  When the young ones were half grown, he would operate on them and remove their stink glands. Then they would grow up to be like cats or ferrites and become pets to keep in the house.

This sounds like a risky, stinky, far out idea to most of us, but not to Grandpa Roth. You see, when he was growing up his Father, Benjamin Roth, was a veterinarian in Logan County, Ohio. Emigrating at the turn of the century from Alsace in Germany, to Berne Switzerland, and then to America, he brought his family and his veterinary skills along with him. Christian learned from his father how to do simple procedures on animals. It was this experience that birthed the idea that he could operate on skunks and turn them into pets.

Skunks were very common on the farms throughout Big Valley. They nest in groundhog holes, near a fence row, or under a stone wall. Skunks are a real nuisance to farmers. They liked to eat whatever was thrown out in the garbage, and, if given the chance, they would steal eggs from the chickens or ducks. Their diet consisted of a variety of grubs, plants, and even honeys bees.

Grandpa trapped a female skunk and operated on her, taking out her stink glands. He kept her penned up in a skunk yard he built out behind the garage. Using a dog chain, he fastened her to a post near the field.  The neighborhood male skunks came by and mated with her. The pregnant skunk was then kept in the skunk yard behind the garage.

The skunk yard was made by burying chicken wire in the ground so she could not dig her way out and escape. Wire covered the whole yard.  He dug trenches in the middle of the yard and buried some drain tile that opened to the surface. This created a place where she could make a nest when her babies were due about sixty-six days later.

The new little ones stayed with their mother until they quit nursing.  Young skunks’ stink glands are not fully developed. As the young skunks grew bigger, Grandpa thought it was time to operate. Using his simple veterinary tools, he was able to operate on them removing their stink glands.

A mother skunk could have six to eight babies in one litter. Once their skunk’s glands were removed, the mother rejected them, so Grandpa kept them in a separate area.  The descented skunks made great pets. He repeated the process over and over again providing skunks for pets and some for hides which he sold.

My father, Paul Roth, told of a time when he was feeding the skunks and accidently stepped on one of the young skunks. This was before Grandpa operated on it to descent it.  The skunk sprayed him with a stinking stream before he could move away. He had a difficult time getting the smell off of him and out of his clothes.

Grandpa Roth was an enterprising man. He advertised in national magazines and shipped skunks for breeding and hides to anyone interested in his unique and unusual hobby.

When my father Paul was ten years old, Robert Huey, who owned the general store, sold off building lots in the town of Allensville.  All the lots along the highway sold quickly. There were ten more one acre lots in the field behind the others. They lay adjacent to Grandpa Roth’s property. Grandpa saved enough money, and with the help of his skunk business, purchased ten lots at $100 an acre.  These were added to the original six acres he owned. Another lot may have been added years later making the total 17 acres.

Dead Horses

What does one do with an old dead horse? Grandpa Roth’s creative mind allowed him to be a very enterprising person who did things the average person would not think of doing. One of these was getting an old horse that was ready to be put down from a neighboring farmer. Most people view a dead horse as a disposal problem, but Grandpa saw it as an opportunity.

He took the children’s pony cart and tied the old horse to the back. Together they clopped home.  He led the horse down around the barn to the edge of the field where he killed it. They skinned the hide off of the horse and stretched it out to dry, nailing it to the back side of the barn. The hide was later sold to make straps and harnesses.

The boys helped him cut up the horse. The meat from the shoulders and hind quarters was sliced into strips and hung on racks to dry. He made racks out of long poles mounted on A-frame and laid the meat over the racks. The meat dehydrated after several days into narrow strips like beef jerky. He used these strips to feed his growing skunk population.

In a large cast iron kettle he cut up and boiled the remaining parts of the horse. The fat separated and was skimmed off. The cooked meat scraps were pressed to squeeze out any remaining fat. The fat called tallow was put into cans or glass containers.

Grandpa used the tallow grease to coat his shoes and boots that he used in his concrete work. This kept the leather from drying out and cracking as well as waterproofing them. He sold some of the boot tallow to friends and neighbors as well.

The remainder of the horse was recycled and buried in the field. During the Great Depression, he had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet.

Selling Star Black Skunk pelts was one of the things he did to bring in extra cash. He fed the skunks the dried horse meat and they seemed to thrive on it.  People liked his silky black furs, especially since they did not have any smell of skunk on them. He advertised in national magazines and shipped both skunks and hides to interested buyers.

All rights reserved:  (c)  4-2017   Dwight L. Roth

 

 

 

A Library Dies with Them

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Each time I go to work at the local Habitat Restore, I see remnants of people’s past being donate for resale. Furniture, pictures, kitchen pots and pans along with many keepsakes are given to us by children who don’t have a place for them in their lives. A friend of mine once told me that her sister, who is a librarian, told her “When a person dies a library dies with them!” This inspired me to write this poem.

A Library Dies with Them

“When a Person dies a library dies with them”

Unwritten stories and never told little gems

Perhaps some better left unwritten

Of fear or war or parent who are hittin’

Childhood friends all dressed up and fancy

Endless hours of fun and fantasy

Running through woods streets and alleys

So much fun at High School pep ralleys

Sweet childhood romances imagined and real

Traded classmate photos and kisses we steal

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Yes, when a person dies

Past relationships die as well

Teachers who cared friends who dared

And bullies who made black eyes swell

Stories of mom and dad

Always proud of joys we had

Or of horrors and tales of abuse and pain

Blocked out never to be mentioned again

Achievements gained awards attained

All lost in the dumpster of time

A dumpster of treasures hand-made creations

Unseen unwanted by the next generation

Stories of romance with fights that follow

Of babies pets and children who holler

Toss it all out none left for tomorrow

Weddings funerals and proud graduations

No time left for the past generation

Just sprinkles of memories now rarely devoured

A hall of fame dies along with the flowers

All up in smoke no more to remain

The stories are gone not heard again

So that’s why I write that’s why I plead

Remember life’s passing with very great speed

So come to my library for a really good read

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Quote: Diane Prutsman Ross  – an  old African Proverb –  “When a person dies a library burns to the ground”

 

Splitting the Heart

Ruel's wooden bald eagle.

Older folks have so many stories to tell if only someone will take the time to ask and listen.  I always enjoy hearing stories of life before my time. I worked for a boss who was in his seventies and when asked about his past, he told us some most interesting stories. It reminds me of taking a log and splitting it open to see what is in the center. When you cut to the into the log you begin to see the beautiful wood grain that has come from years of growth. When planed down, that grain becomes a work of art, a thing of beauty. The same is true when people share their heart. Take time to listen and ask question. It is amazing what you will hear.

Splitting the Heart

Memories are meant to be opened

Just as a log is meant to be split

Revealing the beauty of its past

Grains rich with uniqueness

Only seen when the heart is opened`

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Layers of memories like wood grain

Embedded in the heart of our being

Appreciated only when they are revealed

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Some logs lay for years

Preserved by the swamp in which they lie

Only to be found, opened, and viewed with awe

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Others rot away

Destroyed by circumstances beyond their control

Memories lost in the compost heap of time

 

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Some go up in flames

Fleeting memories

Soon lost in smoke and ashes

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Beauty lies not in the rugged bark

Nor in the gnarled limbs

But in the split layers of the heart

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Inner beauty laid bare… uniqueness of the soul

Cherished memories… the story our life

 

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Wood sculpture by Ruel Detweiler –  Bald Eagle Intarsia 15″ wide x 26″ tall
Woods used: Aspen, Walnut, Red Bay, Spalted Birch, Mulberry and Poplar. No stains used; all natural color.

The red oak bench made from recycled truck racks by Dwight Roth.