In her own words: A poem by Hazel B. Thompson

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TOGETHER – THE FAMILY CAN

I Know – It Happened To Me

Hazel B. Thompson, March 31, 1956

 

Hazel at one year with her dog Nero

Hazel at one year with her dog Nero

On a recent trip home to Detroit, my cousin, Arthur, presented me with a trove of photos of the Thompson’s from around 1906 until the middle 1950’s. He also gave me some of the manuscripts that Aunt Hazel had written during the time she was a graduate student at Wayne State University.  One of the manuscripts stood out to me, and it is this manuscript which I present to you today. It is a long, free verse poem, chronicling the Thompson’s life together, from the earliest part of the Twentieth Century until 1956. It is titled: TOGETHER – THE FAMILY CAN. with a subtitle: I Know – It Happened To Me.     I have used her poem as a structuring device that allows photographs taken of the Thompson family to have some chronology and context. After reading this poem, I understand better why the Walter Thompson’s left Manistee when they did.  I know a bit more about how the depression affected Hazel and how much the Second World War affected the entire Thompson clan.

Remember, you can click on any of the photos and they will become larger. You will find “galleries” of photos on most of the pages.  Although these photos are not captioned, if you click on an individual photo it will become larger.  In the upper left hand of each larger photo there appears a caption.

Some of the lead photos are taken from historical collections that are now in the public domain. Most of the photos are “snapshots.” Some are damaged, and others are showing their age by becoming faded.  This is a long blog with several pages.  At the bottom of each page is a small section with page numbers.  Select the page you want to look at and it will appear. Also, please let me know if there are any mistakes or discrepencies. This was a complicated blog to compile and took several weeks of editing to arrive at the stage that you are now experiencing.  What started as a sack full of old photos now has some meaning and coherance. Please read the poem.  It gives insight into Aunt Hazel’s feelings and passions. Enjoy!

NOT SO LONG AGO

Walter’s Bike Shop at Peanut Junction in Manistee, Michigan

Walter’s Bike Shop at Peanut Junction in Manistee, Michigan

A rumble of drums,

A sound like thunder,

A cannon roared, war, War, WAR.

John left in uniform today.

The twins are leaving tomorrow.

Food shortages,

Coal shortages,

A bitter winter.

Epidemics, influenza, and German measles.

The Thompson’s In front of Stacy Thompson’s home 1919

The Thompson’s In front of Stacy Thompson’s home 1919

Manistee, the quiet little ex-lumber town

Seethed with fear and worry.

Walter Thompson’s Home in Parkdale where Highway 31 turns toward Orchard Beach

Walter Thompson’s Home in Parkdale where Highway 31 turns toward Orchard Beach

Scrub growth and blackened stumps

Covered the once green and wooded hills,

Ward 6 School where Goodenow, Ellsworth and Hazel attended.

First Ward School where Goodenow, Ellsworth and Hazel attended.

Marking an earlier trail blazed by man.

Small businesses closed their doors.

Our town lay prostrate Numbed by the hand of fate.

Walter’s Boat Livery, snaking home after a day on Lake Michigan

Walter’s Boat Livery, snaking home after a day on Lake Michigan

 A hand to mouth struggle

Seeped into each home.

Mothers and fathers, women and men,

Talked of their children’s futures,

What about them?

Goodenow’s class at Ward 6 School

Goodenow’s class at Ward 6 School

Ellsworth’s class, Ward 6 School

Ellsworth’s class, Ward 6 School

Hazel with a BIG Doll

Hazel with a BIG Doll

Hazel at age 6

Hazel at age 6

Industry and capital meant the BIG cities.

Opportunity no longer beaconed from the hills.

Ellsworth and Goodenow on the slopes of Manistee, Michigan

Ellsworth and Goodenow on the slopes of Manistee, Michigan

Some were young enough,

They had the courage to go.

They faced a new life,

Leaving the old one behind.

Some of the Thompson’s with Michael Kowalski, Blanche’s Grandfather who lived to be almost 104. Notice his “Peg Leg.”

Some of the Thompson’s with Michael Kowalski, Blanche’s Grandfather who lived to be almost 104. Notice his “Peg Leg.”

Where would they go?

What would they find?



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Comments

  1. Michaeleen McKinley Laney says:

    I so enjoyed seeing all the pictures from the past. Brought back memories of seeing our extended families.

  2. Michelle Grenier says:

    I was just looking for some historic photos of Manistee and came across this incredible tribute to your family’s history. What a treasure. I was absolutely transported by every verse written by Hazel Thompson.

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