Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

August 13, 2011

Column and poetry from the distant past

This is the time of the year when I take an editorially-approved month’s vacation, by publishing old columns. Here’s one that is as old as I can get: my very first column ever, written for a Pittsburgh weekly newspaper in October 1972. Not how I would do it today, perhaps, but then, what is?

After all, there is something to be said for hoarding, if it’s only for the joy, years later, of finding the stored-up evidence that, once upon a time, you were very young.

A couple of years ago, when we were packing for a move, I came across a notebook of my “Collected Works,” edited by the author at the age of 12.

It contained my entire literary production up to that time, consisting of 16 poems, five plays, and three short stories, plus an uncertain number of word sketches. (There appears to be a mistake in the index but then no editor is infallible.)

This nostalgic little volume knocks into a cocked hat the idea that a happy childhood is all fun and games for the incumbent.

Besides four that are downright frivolous, the poems can be divided into six rather upbeat ones, and six that are grimly pessimistic.

They deal with subjects as diverse as suicide and prayers, rainbows and pet dogs, automobiles and school.

One of the stories is a contemporary war story — World War ll, that is — and makes the point that people are human whether they live in Nazi Germany or the United States. One of the plays, in two very short acts, promises the 9-year-old heroine absolute fame and happiness because of her musical talent — sort of a cultured Horatio Alger line.

When you’re young, you don’t miss seeing the tragedies, the human conditions of life — they just look a lot simpler.

Here’s one of the mournful poems, written during a 1939 vacation to Nova Scotia, according to an editorial note that fails to explain the lugubrious tone. (Though we have learned from the movies that that was a very good year.)

Down by the fishing wharves

There is something that catches your heart,

To see fishers’ wives, waving goodbye,

Maybe forever to part.

Text Only
Maude McDaniel - Living
  • Rusty writes about the nature of doghood

    I am a dog.
    Therefore I bark.
    I don’t understand why it is so hard for humans to understand this.
    I mean, there are certain things that come with the territory, right?

    April 5, 2014

  • Free-range reminiscing and occasional nostalgia

    When I was in grade school, (many more years ago than when either of you were in grade school) my daily winter (fall, spring) routine included walking to school across a railroad track.

    March 22, 2014

  • Beatles return us to what might have been

    Here’s a a free gift from Goldy (to your left), and it should get us going with a good laugh, that both my readers will approve of. Then, after that (fair warning) I am going to turn a little sour.

    March 8, 2014

  • What’s missing in TV cooking shows? Lots

    As if badmouthing cupcakes isn’t bad enough — I have to go on and say this: I think the plates of food that are winning so many of the prizes on the Food Channel are well — boring.

    February 22, 2014

  • Only one person doesn’t like cupcakes

    Cupcake-wise, the last four or five years have ballooned into a huge plus for almost any bakery that attempts them. (Not to mention the ballooning of many of the individuals involved.) You could call cupcakes the up-cakes of our time. Well, you could, but I guess only I would, and even then only in a column on a very good day, when everything else was go!

    February 8, 2014

  • Some of us are ‘privy’ to certain information

    Outhouses used to be an object of fascination for me. (and in fact I wrote a column about them in 2007. Since we have all forgotten that, I decided to write another one this week.

    January 25, 2014

  • Just the right thing for very cold weather

    Beginning the new year with a tasty recipe always seemed like a good idea to me. Unfortunately, in this day and age, it should be a healthy recipe, and I’m a little short of those. It turns out that the period I learned to cook in (the 40s and 50s) was not noted for its general nutritional values. Although, of course, we thought we were pretty much on course there. Later, the next generation informed us that we were way off track and what did we mean by raising them in such unwholesome habits. (Foodwise, I mean. They arrived at certain other unwholesome habits on their own.)

    January 12, 2014

  • Who thinks these things up, anyway?

    Here are some of the best jokes (of the email world) in 2013. Have a Happy New Year, as I plan to!

    December 28, 2013

  • How do we compare with rest of the U.S.?

    I recently purchased “The World Almanac 2014,” reviewing events of this year, energy, government, science and technology, past and present celebrities, U.S. and world history, nations of the world and sports.

    December 14, 2013

  • Old houses and furnaces and a different world

    Nine houses and four dorms. That’s how many places I have lived in my lifetime, and I remember each of them, well, not vividly but with great fondness. Not a one of them was a bad experience, in fact, good things happened at each place. (Bad things too, but that’s life.)

    November 30, 2013

Latest news
Must Read
House Ads