Vanishing Prairie

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Vanishing prairie hangs on

Isolated town foregone

 

Time long ago, grand premiere

History fading each year

 

Showing up on highway map

Road’s wide spot, taking a nap

 

Middle of farming country

Seldom find even one tree

 

Boarded-up wood-frame schoolhouse

Empty, forgotten courthouse

 

No longer town’s pride and joy

Critters, varmints now employ

 

Railroad track hides in tall grass

Recalling past trains, first-class

 

Grain elevator hanging on

Memories live, town’s swan song

 

Single street light standing guard

Night’s shadows, lasting vanguard

 

Yesteryear’s grandest of homes

Mystery for Sherlock Holmes

 

Faded sign for Ruth’s Café

Long absent dinner entrees

 

Movie theater shuttered

Smelling fresh popcorn, buttered

 

Few remember town’s past times

Hearing nature’s windy chimes

 

Past glory days, now long gone

Dim sunset, well past its dawn

  

Courtesy of Pinterest.

During my teaching career, I taught 25 years in the eastern prairie country of Montana.  Today, many small farming communities struggle for survival while others such as the one in this poem live on only as memories.

Her Spirit Lives

Montana’s Crazy Mountains (courtesy of Pinterest).

Howling wind joins darkness

From mountains standing tall

Screaming into valleys

Her spirit lives to bawl

 

River bottom cuts through

Shudders at her loud cry

Escaping into night

Her spirit never dies

 

Myths and legends live on

Woman wanders away

Never noticed again

Her spirit roams to prey

 

Crazy Woman Mountains

Dramatic island range

Lives into eternity

Her spirit must not change

 

Another winter night

Shivering voice calls out

Noisy lungs never sleep

Her spirit lives throughout

Another view taken from the south with the Yellowstone River in the foreground with autumn’s colors (courtesy of Pinterest).

Montana’s Crazy Mountains stand as a sentry above the valley near the town of Big Timber.  Nicknamed the “Crazies,” the wind always seems to be blowing.  If you wish to read more about them, here is a link to the mountains.

Buckeye Snapshots (Issue #4)

Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be featured.

Just like the place where you live, Ohio is loaded with facts which very people may actually know.  Being relatively new to Ohio (arriving here about 13 years ago), I am still searching and discovering more.

Ohio is sometimes referred to as the “Buckeye” state.  But, how many people really know what a Buckeye is?  The Buckeye tree is found throughout the state, and its nut is also called a Buckeye.  While the trees are found in other Midwestern locations, only Ohio has adopted it. 

A collection of Buckeye nuts. Just remember that these are not edible and can be toxic.

Besides being a nickname for the state, Buckeyes is also used as the name for The Ohio State University’s athletic teams.  To be honest, it seems a bit strange to use the name of a “worthless nut” for a college sports team name.

Ohio was granted statehood in 1803 while Thomas Jefferson was President.  However, does anyone know the rest of the story?  When the American Congress approved statehood for Ohio, they forgot one significant step.  Ohio’s state constitution was not ratified by the federal government.  This error was overlooked until 1953 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation approved by Congress to rectify this oversight. 

The unique style of the Ohio state flag with its swallow-tail design. A member of The Ohio State University marching band is waving the flag at a home football game.

Ohio is home to eight of America’s Presidents.  Any Americans who can name them all should be applying for a spot on the game show “Jeopardy.”  With the exception of William Henry Harrison, all were born in Ohio.  Harrison was born in Virginia, but lived in Ohio when he was elected President. 

The remaining Presidents include:  Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding.  There has not been a President from Ohio since Harding (elected in 1920).  Seeing that Harding has been ranked as one of the most inefficient Presidents in history, one might understand why Ohio has been on the Presidential sidelines ever since.

Buckeye Snapshots (Issue #3)

This is the third post of a relatively new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be featured.

Ohio uses a number of nicknames.  Many people have heard of the “Buckeye” state, but fewer know some of its other nicknames.

Declared by the U.S. Congress in 2003, Ohio is also known as the “Birthplace of Aviation.”  Four noteworthy Ohioans have stood out for their individual contributions to American aviation.

Many people know of the inventive brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright (1867-1912 and 1871-1948).  Growing up in Dayton, this tandem worked hard to earn a living from their bicycle business, but they were dreaming of more.  Their ambitions credited them with inventing and flying the first aircraft in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  In winning a coin toss, Orville took the controls of the plane on this historic flight.

Few people may know of the top fighter ace from World War I, Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973).  Born in Columbus, this daring aviator earned 26 aerial victories during the Great War.  Being nicknamed “Fast Eddie,” this man seemed destined for greatness.  For his war exploits, he was awarded the American military’s Medal of Honor.  Later in life, he experienced more success as a race car driver, automotive designer, and airline executive. 

On the left:  the Wright brothers.  On the right:  Captain Eddie Rickenbacker.  (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

One of the most recognized of the early American astronauts was John Glenn (1921-2016).  Hailing from New Concord, he flew as a U.S. Marines fighter pilot in World War II (57 combat missions) and the Korean War (63 combat missions).  Following his military service in Korea, Glenn served as a fighter test pilot.  Little did he know that this step in his aviation career would open a door to outer space.  Selected as one of NASA’s original seven astronauts, he orbited the earth three times in 1962 aboard the Friendship 7 space flight in a Mercury capsule.

Any discussion about Ohio’s aviation pioneers would not be complete without including Neil Armstrong (1930-2012).  From his hometown of Wapakoneta, Armstrong would bring a well-rounded resume to his training in NASA’s second group of astronauts.  The Korean War veteran served as a naval aviator and test pilot.  Following Armstrong’s successful Gemini 8 mission, he was groomed to make the historic moon landing on July 20, 1969 with Buzz Aldrin.  As he stepped onto the moon’s surface, his words still resonate even today:  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

On the left:  John Glenn.  On the right:  Neil Armstrong.  (Photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Each of these Americans played an important role in the development of aviation in the United States, taking us from the first flight to landing man on the moon.  Outside of Dayton stands the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is also home to the world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum—National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

The sheer number of exhibits is overwhelming, but here is a very brief sample.  Follow this link to the museum website.

  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (the infamous Memphis Belle)
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress (this bomber dropped the second and final atomic bomb over Japan to end World War II)
  • Boeing 707 (recognized by call sign “Air Force One” for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon)
  • Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour (later the name “Endeavour” is used for one of NASA’s space shuttles)

Generation to Generation

The inspiration for this poem comes from an essay written by William E. Farr, “Troubled Bundles, Troubled Blackfeet:  The Travail of Cultural and Religious Renewal.”  This essay is part of a larger collection of writings that link Montana’s past with its future in the book, MONTANA LEGACY.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Facing an uncertain world

Life asking questions of “when”

Intertribal wars threaten

Hostile danger setting in

 

Preserving Blackfeet culture

Each passing generation

Saving sacred heritage

Hold for next generation

 

Ritual artifacts cache

Spiritual lives won’t rest

Supernatural visions

Medicine dreams will attest

 

Honoring warrior life

Holy treasures speaking out

Collected and safeguarded

Sacred bundles carry clout

 

Filling with key elements

Common and natural sought

Feathers, hides, shells, horns added

Teeth, wood, bones . . . each with a thought

 

Passing on these rituals

Mother Earth, Creative Sun

Guarding life’s sacred relics

Legacy, father to son

 

Sample of a bundle’s contents (courtesy of Pinterest).

Season of Change

In December, 1989, the Romanian Revolution ignited with passion which would no longer wait in silence.  The rest of the Eastern Bloc countries under Soviet influence had already experienced peaceful change from communist dictatorships.  Under Nicolae Ceausescu’s harsh leadership, Romania was the final holdout as the democratic wave of freedom blitzed across Eastern Europe.  This poem shares some of this revolution’s story.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Ruthless, authoritarian rule controls the cards

Harsh, brutal regime crushes dissenting voices

Quietness hides the remaining, burning embers

Daily life conceals wounds, offering few choices

 

Citizens endure lack of even the basic needs

Challenging days, facing endless heartbreak

Darkest days of winter, hunger and little heat

Voices stifled, experiencing numbing heartache

 

Freedom routed, plummeting to rock bottom

System of repression forcefully controls lives

Defiant opposition, beaten down to nothing

Dictator’s untruths cover up with empty lies

 

Scattering of small voices continues to speak out

Smoldering protests fueled with hungry passion

Government crackdowns to silence any dissent

Voices growing bolder, backed with compassion

 

Massive protests ignite courage in a distant city

“Timisoara” becomes a rallying cry for liberation

Unexpectedly, dark and evil house of cards folds

Season of change witnesses rebirth of a nation

 

Courtesy of Pinterest.

Monday Memories: Forever Proud

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

His warrior image endures over the years

Witnessing a proud life, without any fears

 

His Native American culture continues to live on

Keeping rich and spiritual memories, never gone

 

Life’s simple ways will always shine bright

Displaying warrior bravery at every sight

 

Man and horse unite together as one

Riding his pony into the setting sun

 

Fierce in battle, defending his vast land

Adding to his legend, he does all he can

 

Younger men look up to him and follow in battle

Counting coup, his bravery becomes his mantel

 

This storied warrior transitions to an old man

Looking back proudly, honoring his last stand

 

His weathered face reveals a mighty, brave past

Lighting up eyes, with proud memories that last

 

The buffalo have disappeared for good

Ending a way of life, once proudly stood

 

Many of the old traditions are now gone

Reliving them through legend and song

 

The old warrior passes down past tribal history

Teaching a new generation, his ancient journey

 

The warrior no longer meets foes in battle today

Remembering his legacy, forever proud to say

 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Buckeye Snapshots

Remnants of the towpath of the Ohio and Erie Canal near the community of Groveport. Along the right side of the path, the canal channel is overgrown with trees. Ironically, an active railroad track runs to the left of the path.

This is the inaugural post of a new feature here at Big Sky Buckeye.  Every couple of months or so different snapshots about the Buckeye State of Ohio will be presented.

This famous song has been sung by young school children in America since the early 1900s.  Perhaps a few readers remember singing these familiar lyrics:

I’ve got a mule and her name is Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She’s a good old worker and a good old pal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

The “Erie Canal Song” serves as an introduction to the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Lake Erie (along Ohio’s northern border) with the Ohio River (along its southern flank). 

The canal was constructed years before railroads would arrive so it provided an effective and cheaper way to ship business products and agricultural goods over longer distances.

Leaving Lake Erie near Cleveland, the canal ran through a series of valleys which dot much of the eastern and central part of the state.  Covering a total of 308 miles, the canal proceeded through the river valleys of Cuyahoga, Muskingum, Licking, and Scioto.  Once it reached the Scioto River south of present-day Columbus, barge traffic used the Scioto River on its way to Portsmouth on the Ohio River.

The canal was constructed between 1825 and 1832 (the Erie Canal was finished in 1825).  Construction costs ran about $10,000 per mile.

By the 1850s, railroads arrived upon the scene, and their efficiency and lower costs brought about the eventual demise and decline of the canal systems in Ohio and other regions of the nation.

There is significant evidence of the canal today across many areas of Ohio.  A curious traveler should be on the lookout for:

CANAL ROUTE

The route of the Ohio and Erie Canal can be traced from northeastern Ohio (at Lake Erie) through central Ohio southward toward the Ohio River.

LOCKS

In the village park at Lockville are a series of locks. Pictured is Lock #13, which is in the best shape. Locks were used to raise or lower the boat as needed due to changes in elevation along the canal route.
This well-preserved lock is found near the Groveport Recreational Center. Lock #22 is easy to find along Groveport Road.

There are numerous websites with additional information.  If one searches for “Ohio and Erie Canal,” much more information is available as well as interesting destinations along the former route of the canal.  There are numerous locations with additional locks, towpaths, and former canal channels.  Many places offer parks, walking and hiking trails, and canoeing.

Monday Memories: Engineering Marvels

This poem was originally published in October, 2018, making it one of my earliest poems.  The content drives the poem, and the format has been updated from its original style. 

brooklyn bridge new york

Photo by Chris Molloy on Pexels.com

Designed to carry a road or cross a ravine or river

Bridges are constructed to carry a load to deliver

 

Bridge designs range from very simple to complex

Some look very basic and daunting from the rest

 

More primitive bridges make one’s legs tremble and shake

Crossing them seems like a journey, certainly not to make

 

Scaling Everest, the world’s tallest and best known peak

Climbers use a crevasse bridge for the thrills they seek

 

Relishing a drive along many of America’s roads, without despair

Crossing a covered bridge that is unique and kept in good repair

 

More complex types are designed with beauty it seems

Trestle, arch, suspension, girder, drawbridge, and beam

 

Famous bridges are found nearly everywhere

Nearly all are built with a great amount of care

 

Sadly, a small number of bridges weaken and collapse

Due to flooding, earthquakes, or an engineering lapse

 

Pittsburgh proclaims to be the “City of Bridges” at last count

But, New York City possesses more bridges, without a doubt

 

Some bridges are named after people of notable fame

Benjamin Franklin and Andy Warhol, a couple to name

 

Other bridges are found in legends, films, and books

Golden Gate, Mackinac, and Brooklyn—take a look!

 

European designers have been busy in many places

Hamburg and Amsterdam’s bridges fill their spaces

 

Bridges comprise some of man’s grandest monuments of all

Designing impressive engineering marvels that shouldn’t fall

 

As some plan to demolish an old, downtrodden bridge

Expect others to stand and cry out, “Save Our Bridge”

pexels-photo-1591382.jpeg

Photo by Mohamed Almari on Pexels.com

Monday Memories: Never Taken for Granted

Here is another edition of “Monday Memories.”  This poem was written back in December, 2018, and its message may be even more relevant today than nearly a year ago.   May America or any nation never take anything for granted.

usa flag waving on white metal pole

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Never taken for granted

 

A young nation moves forward to be brave and free

To remove the shackles of oppression so others see

 

A soldier takes a bullet in a far, distant land

To protect freedoms that will always stand

 

Thomas Jefferson will never have to write a sequel

To state for all to read, “All men are created equal”

 

A minister preaches to a racially divided nation

To envision “free at last” will be his final station

 

A newspaper criticizes the government with much to say

To reinforce freedom of the press is always here to stay

 

A hesitant nation awakens while its other allies fight

To bring her vast resources in a victory full of might

 

A mother takes a stand at a school board meeting

To support a worthy novel that is taking a beating

 

A crowd protests peacefully in a city very near

To bring attention to issues without any fear

 

A writer uses his words to bring an issue to light

To encourage all to make a difference and fight

 

A President hides behind the sins of Watergate

To shamefully resign from office will be his fate

 

Workers strike to protest low wages and more

To organize labor unions to even up the score

 

A young politician inspires and leads the way

To become a worthy leader with much to say

 

Other nations come to the aid of a valued friend

To bring support with the troops that they send

 

Students stare into TV cameras with one voice

Violence in schools is truly not about a choice

 

A former republic declines and fades away

To witness freedom’s erosion without delay

 

Christ’s red blood stains an old rugged cross

To bring a second chance for all who are lost

 

Never taken for granted

 

cross-sunset-sunrise-hill-70847.jpeg

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com