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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
Elmer main street about 1900
Going Home, by Janey (Mathis) Whiteaker
(written for the Elmer Centennial in 1987)
I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who said, "You can never go home again", but that is not true. I go home quite often.
I go for walks with Nancy to the river bank where we sit idly and carefree - listening to our favorite songs on the transistor radio. I walk to school in the fall, inhaling the fresh smell of the grain being processed at the old MFA elevator. I go to Granny's Cafe to play ping-pong and invest my parents' pocket change in the jukebox. I visit Mick at Grandma Hughes' and eat the freshly baked homemade cookies that are always on hand. I go mushroom hunting in April and savor the taste of those fried gems drenched in catsup. I spend the night on the farm with Leola, Barb, Velma, or Bev - wishing it were I who lived there so I could always gather eggs and ride the bus to school. I go to Sunday School in my little church and sometimes feel guilty about daydreaming instead of listening to Mr. Bane's lesson.
I spend nights with Sis and play the old pump organ while she fixes a cake for us, knowing she will let me eat all the batter I want. I wish Uncle Bernice had not left me so soon. And I take advantage of Monell's absence by getting into her clothes and reading the letters I somehow found. I enjoy spending the night at Aunt Daphne's or with Greg at Aunt Hazel's knowing that they too will spoil me and my mother won't know. I realize that aunts are very special people to me. I read "Ranpunzel" for the twelfth time to Ione, wondering if she will ever tire of it. I am sixteen years old again and dressed out for a basketball game; I am excited, nervous, and determined - hoping we will not disappoint Mr. or Mrs. Cain who work so diligently with us. I feel my mother's comforting hand on my forehead when I am ill. I go fox-hunting with my dad, usually listening to only silence though our hope is to hear the dogs in hot pursuit of the fox (and though I never told father, I secretly hoped the dogs would never catch the fox, and I always wondered how he would know it was our dogs he heard in the distance instead of Cot Rhoades' dogs).
Yes, I go home quite often. To that dear little town where I was raised and gently nurtured by not just my parents, but the entire community that affected me. Thanks Elmer, for being there when I need you. When I get tense or disillusioned with the city life or my adult responsibilities, I quite simply escape and go back home - in my mind. I only wish I could take my children with me.
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This is the Buzzard's Roost
a 3x6 railing,
one edge worn smooth,
rounded in spots by old men
sliding on and off.
Around its weathered posts
soil was once packed hard
from comings and goings
in step with a dying town.
Below it a drainage ditch
had a habit of washing away
of sentiments and notions.
Here is where worn out
painters, and red-eyed drunks
gave star spangled speeches
and offered if-I-was-runnin'-
They fingered reasons
there were good old days.
The railing records their stances,
knife-carved deep left and right
from spike-driven sweat,
bent-nailed dreams, paint-peeled
succeses and blurred
out of brown bottles.
The weeds are now tall and brittle,
undisturbed, rattle windy voices
about the good old days
when there was dignity
from being walked upon
after the green
had left their stems.
Poem by Larry E. Smith
Elmer residents will remember that the Buzzard's Roost was a wood, rail fence over Troublesome Creek, a place where men would rest and loaf and pontificate, as so aptly described by the following poem by Larry Smith.