66 years ago, this poem was proudly cut from the newspaper and placed in a scrapbook. My grandmother, Melanie Vier McAleer died just two and a half years ago at the age of 94–an accomplished woman by any standard, winning a national doubles championship in tennis for women over 70.
But her greater love, one that stayed with her through her entire life, was poetry. She was a regularly featured writer in Detroit papers throughout my mom’s childhood in the 1940s and 50s. Her whimsical style and clever insight into the human condition was spot-on. I remember being flattered as a 12 year old to be asked to illustrate some of her children’s poetry about animals–one of them a squirrel.
It was always a dream of hers to meld her two loves into one–a book of poems about tennis. Her son Joe and I put ourselves on this task a while back and created a series of illustrations to accompany the poems. Perhaps we’ll get them in this blog soon!
I always loved the above poem, since it captures not only an era that’s passed–a cobbler fixing shoes on a lower-level apartment–but also the drudgery of a never-ending workload that gets fortunately interrupted by life. My grandma, a cobbler of words, would have to isolate herself with her typewriter upstairs, trying desperately to meet her deadline while her six children plotted ways to bring their lives into hers.
It’s important for me to remember this poem when things get a little too busy and you tend to forget the people around you–and that they’re growing up or even growing away if you don’t watch out.
This little boy’s holster was fixed by his father and the cowboy game could continue. And now that little boy could be in his seventies and probably still remembers not only that game with his buddies, but also his father’s kindness in taking some time for him.