Remembering Poppa “The Concrete Porch”

It must have been summer time. Great, big, hot hot hot Texas summertime. We went barefoot from June until September and were clad in cut off pants (home made shorts that have gotten old or wore holes in the knees). Poppa had a problem and had tried to remmedy it for quite a while. His rickety, past its prime, front porch had become a headache. The warped bords rose up in places that caused the front door to no longer function. The porch was unsalvageable and needed replacing. He was weary of having to leave through the back door to go and check the mailbox on the street. Poppa asked his sons and sons in laws for help. They all promised they would but after a long while, nothing was done. Now, Poppa was a skilled farmer, none better. He could plan out dozens of vacant acres at a time, plow them, water and fertilize growing plants, chop the weeds, hoe the furrows as the crops grew taller, shoo the predators, and harvest enough to feed his large family and sell most of it to keep them safe and warm through the fierce Oklahoma winters. Poppa was a decent mechanic too. He had kept ancient farm equipment funtioning since he was a boy. He could fix lawn mowers and sometimes an automobile. Poppa was adept at many carpenter jobs as he had helped build wooden oil well platforms in the early 1900’s. Nanny worked just as hard in the fields and harvesting. She canned, cooked and prepared all the meals. She raised and fed the livestock and chickens, and actively took place in the slaughter of them as well. However, Poppa evidently knew little about the fine art of working with concrete. In the summer. In the hot Texas heat.

to be continued…

“Rememebering Poppa” is now available on Amazon. Click to get your copy!

So…what’s it about?

David and I settled on ten stories that were our most memorable of growing up in Tom Hancock’s shadow. Here is a recap of what’s inside this book called “Remembering Poppa”.

Story One – This is our experience as children helping Poppa construct a concrete porch (David, age 7, was in charge of ordering the concrete). It did not turn out well.

Story Two – Virgie’s Grave is about our trip to eastern Oklahoma to find the grave of a long lost aunt.

Story Three – Poppa tellls us about meeting Geronimo and Frank James.

Story Four – The Doctor’s Office is David’s early memory of how our grandfather handled public racism in the 1960’s.

Story Five – This story is our favorite and is simply titled “The Mule”.

Story Six – James Westbrook was Poppa’s neighbor who rode with the Texas Rangers. Story Four also tells of the year we ate tons of sweet potatoes.

Story Seven – This story weaves our many Oklahoma reunion memories with David’s earliest memory in life- helping Poppa look for a lost dog.

Story Eight – Zephyrinus Salinas was a bandit who rode with Poncho Villa who came to live and work on Poppa’s farm.

Story Nine – This recalls everyday life in the “Cotton Mill District” and Poppa raising honey bees.

Story Ten – Murder in Mayberry contrasts the idyllic youth at 901 West DuBois with real tragedy in our neighborhood.

“Remebering Poppa” is now available on Amazon:

New Book – “Remembering Poppa”

This is not just a story about our grandfather’s life. It is a collection of our most vivid memories of him and how he impacted our lives. He has been gone for over fifty years, yet he remains inside our minds, souls, and hearts. Since people’s memories can often vary about the same event, David and I found joy in recalling the same stories in perfect unity. Often, we would each have our own memory with added color, but these were never in conflict. This has been a magical experience to reconstruct the past. Thomas Asbury Hancock was not rich, powerful or famous. He was more. He was our Poppa.

This wonderful true tale of life in the Cotton Mill District in Denison, Texas, in the 1950’s and 60’s, is now available on Amazon. Click below for order details.

Ten Thousand Bees

They came in August, like an army from the north

a large droopy bundle

on a limb they held

an old man’s beard they

became full of stingers and

wings that beat

I ran out of breath to see them

like that, they pulsed, they moved

as one they did think

their center was lovely

so strong and yet weak

they gave us their nectar

we gave them our fear

The keeper came and told them to

wait, he was housing them soon:

but they did not hear

but they wanted to go

but they did not know

he was their friend

Ten thousand bees came to live

with us now, their ghost was gone

so they wouldn’t tame

so we are their camp

so they let us dine

honey and comb divine

page 19 from Western Soul by John K Bucher

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Rain On Porch

Grey clouds swollen with drops

surround a cabin deep in the woods

sitting on a

stool with coffee

he looks at as a gentle rain moves in

trying hard to forget a broken past

he raises his head and sees the lightning

cold air fills the porch

and then a chill

he goes inside to build a small fire

panes of glass the sky darkens

on the pines water pours and trickles

he sighs and thinks of his life

A banjo plays in his mind and lifts

his soul and washes away the pain

like the rain that is pouring from the sky

the orchestra beats upward and soothes

He goes back to the porch

and watches

the evening sun returning to its home

one of his dogs

raises his head and speaks

night comes very easy now and bathes him

The rain beats heavy now on the roof

from his view a transformation forms

a new determination to look forward

and never look back again

page 152-153 Cowboys and Witches by John K Bucher

From the Earth

In the Oklahoma Dust Bowl

My grandfather toiled

His back toward the sun

Diamondbacks coiled

Hard labor he knew

Even from his birth

Not destined for a bank

Or any kind of mirth

Loved to hunt and tell

Stories as he went

He looked you in the eye

Said what he meant

But the blessed earth is what

Drove him on and on

Cotton, corn and wheat

In the early dawn

The earth, plowed so

Fresh and brown

Seeds and water, till

The sun went down

Then came the harvest

The gathering, the sale

Another year of blessing

Another prayer prevails

His life from the earth

The only one he knew

He never owned a new car

Material things were few

He had to work when

He was old, still very proud

The earth he loved so much

Still spinning in the clouds

page 116-117 Cowboys and Witches by John K Bucher

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Yellow Roof

On thick clay tiles lay a man

A yellow sea in a far away land

Watching the sea he looks at the sky

A flock of birds descend and then goes high

He relaxes his thoughts reaching for a beer

The ships look tired as they draw near

He sips and shoos the buzzing of a fly

He wants a job but knows it’s a lie

The air is moist with beer and salt

A Hemingway afternoon down to a fault

On the beach two girls bathe in the surf

A man is selling fish knowing their worth

The trouble began in a much younger life

He used to have children, a home and a wife

Now only a saloon, a bed and the roof

He used to exist but now there’s no proof

But inside him there stirs a new sound

Maybe tomorrow from this roof I’ll come down

But until then I’ll drink and I’ll sleep

Yesterday’s gone and not even the angels will weep

Page 166 Cowboys and Witches by John K Bucher

Early Morning Songs

After a hard midnight hour

And all the dreams were an ugly sour

The darkness spreads inky black

Mind games spun the liquor and Prozac

A song rolls down a cobweb trail

Guitars and melody voices so frail

High notes drum a heartbeat spike

Songs to greet a heady gold strike

Early morning songs follow a path

Soaking warm like a hot steam bath

Music dance love never lands wrong

Whistling sidewalk work early morning song

Page 37 – California Beat Poetry Number Four – Dharma Angels by John K Bucher

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Writers, criminals, dharma bums, poets and lovers have always found comfort in the low down motels in the less desirable parts of cities- No lease to sign or credit to check, the brown skinned man behind the glass only wants cash and gives you a key to a hot shower and a bed – Television and heat! Away from the cold wind! Summer breezes float through the windows as do the moans from the next room over as you open a can of Spam and one more beer from the paper sack- Weeks go by and you learn some of the names who come and go with the wind and wonder how much longer with life be just these four walls? HBO and clean towels! Mini fridge full of beer!

Months march toward fall and the mirror tells your age and shaving becomes an option as does everything but a simple routine called life – motel life

Winter is gray and the windows rattle while you pack your battered boxes of stuff and get ready to move one more time as that old road calls- “Come back soon” the room calls and you do, again and again.

Page 21- 22 in California Beat Poetry Number Four Dharma Angels by John K Bucher

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