Nellie Isabelle Steward Cooper

Youngstown, Ohio
Nellie Isabelle Steward Cooper
Youngstown, Ohio


I Was Born In Youngstown, Ohio

I am one of those numerous people who was born in Ohio but moved away at a very young age, in my case about six years old, and not far away did I move, only across the state line from Youngstown to the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, then later up to a farming community between there and the New York state line, still later across that line to the furniture manufacturing town of Jamestown, in western New York where I finished high school at Jamestown High School (Red Raiders) and married in the same month.

This was a rather compact area (Jamestown) and this was my whole bailiwick, though it encompassed a number of ways of living, and several distinct environments.

There were to a large extent several kinds of families; as I recall, Swedish, Irish, or Italian, and at least one family of African American heritage....

I always supposed this to be so because in our high school which served the whole town, there was but one black student, named Wharton, who was a star athlete, and he sat behind me in one class.

I fit in just dandy, being mostly Irish with a very stern strain of Scot Highland for the rest.... My girlfriends were all Swedish and my boyfriends were Italian, except one who was English, a real weird thing to find up there. But I managed to marry a fellow whose ancestry was Dutch. I didn't have anything to do with the Irish, which perplexed my mother. I couldn't bear how brash those boys were, and all that!

Italian boys read you Shakespeare in the park and sang to you accompanied by their mandolins or guitars, and were ever so polite as their mothers insisted. It was very hard even then to find an obedient boy, especially an obedient Irish boy.

But I found Ernie outside Jamestown in a little town up the lake, we didn't fall in love or anything so corny as that, we both just decided we hadn't met anyone we liked better, so why not, and let's get on with living.

Except that it wasn't for long.... We worked at Chautauqua -On-The-Lake summers, and at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. in the winters and when my husband contracted TB we could no longer work at either place.

But it wasn't until a few weeks before he would be gone that we had by this time covered a good share of the South and the West of the USA together...

We had been boon companions, we had truly lived our lives together, traveled to many-many places together, enjoyed ourselves together, suffered many degrading experiences together. I would never find another friend like Ernie.

When Ernie died he was two months past his twenty-ninth birthday. But he had lived as he decided for the two years of life left to him. I ruled out begging and crying on my side, but we probably didn't realize how final death was, we couldn't realize, we thought our own strength would always be there as it always had been. So that after engaging ourselves in all the outside work we could, including field cropping and in the vineyards, we finally came home and Ernie died in the sanatorium there, with all the hateful associations and sufferings we both had with it.

After Ernie's death I returned to California to see if what I had found there before was as horrible as it seemed, as we had lived mostly in migrant camps, Ernie and myself, yes we two strange birds were there in the mists of the Okie flock.

After a bit I tried to return east, but I was diverted, even as Robert Frost was diverted, I had to cross a relentless stream of cars to reach a possible ride heading east, on the superhighway. So much easier was it for me to get a lift and go back to Modesto, and that made all the difference.....
Popular Poems

Delivering Poems Around The World

Poems are the property of their respective owners. All information has been reproduced here for educational and informational purposes to benefit site visitors, and is provided at no charge...

4/19/2021 11:58:18 AM #