This post relates to Chapter 2 – The Parkers of Aurora.
During the writing of my five generation family memoir, it came to my attention that my maternal Grandmother, Lucille M. (Gleich) Parker, had written quite a significant poem. A trained journalist and life-long writer, my Grandma Parker as we called her, wrote all her life and was quite an accomplished poet, which I knew. A fact I didn’t know was the the Governor of Nebraska read her poem MY NEBRASKA at the World’s Fair in Seattle of 1962! My mother had no record of the actual poem, nor was there anything in the estate document files. Extensive on-line searches of various archives during my writing of the memoir yielded no evidence or reference to it.
Recently, I traveled with five of my children to visit Aurora, Nebraska where my grandparents owned their department store PARKERS OF AURORA during the late 1960s and early 1970s. My grandfather had managed JC Penney stores most of his life in South Dakota and Nebraska. When that company closed their store in Aurora, my grandparents purchased it and operated the successful store that I recollected from my childhood. During our visit, we met up with my cousin, Judy Kost Salmon, a long-time resident of Aurora. She showed us my grandparents’ two houses, their graves at the cemetery, and the old store location. My other cousin, Don Kost, drove from Kearney to meet for lunch at the Senior Center. My children played the piano for the guests, and I also did a book presentation. One of the gentleman who attended told me of his late wife’s employment at the store!
The highlight of the trip occurred after lunch when we toured the local museum, which is quite lovely and has an incredible set of historic displays from pioneer days. My cousin Judy thought to ask the staff if they had a copy of my grandmother’s poem in their files. Within just a few minutes we were presented with a newspaper clipping from the late 1990s. The article recounted how my grandparents returned to live their final years in Aurora, after having enjoyed their retirement home in Estes Park, Colorado. At the end of the article there was a reprint of MY NEBRASKA! I was simply thrilled to finally read it. So, now I have the pleasure of posting that lovely and somewhat famous poem here on this blog.
MY NEBRASKA, by Lucille M. Parker
Far inland from either ocean
Out across the rolling plains
Buffeted by winter snowstorms
Blessed by summer sun and rains
Lies a land that God has smiled on
And a people proud and true
In a state we call Nebraska
Under skies of azure blue.
There the golden corn grows taller
And the grass is lush and green
There the cows are ever sleeker
And the air is fresh and clean.
From her fields and orchards gathered
In summertime and early fall
There are luscious foods aplenty
Far beyond the needs of all.
Oh, Nebraska! My Nebraska!
From your cities and your farms
Come the nation’s greatest people
Rich in honesty and charms!
Though we travel o’er the country
To the East and to the West
Something always calls us homeward
To the state that we love best!
My heart is full of joy at the rich treasure I have found…a sweet, sweet memory of my grandparents and the Christian legacy of faith they passed on to me. They also nurtured in me a love for agriculture and writing which I enjoy to this day. Thank you Grandpa and Grandma Parker!