"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Wadsworth Trail Dreamin' " (of the future)

The great Del Holdgrafer drew a cartoon with a hiking party getting out to a quite remote place. The guide said "pretty soon we'll be getting into wilderness." The humor was that it was quite obvious the group was well into such territory already. A man's teeth chattered in response to the resonating sound of a coyote.
Holdgrafer had an appreciation for all things wild and natural. I sense he gravitated to the natural state. He had an ingrained suspicion of progress. He was naive about medical expenses. He expected the "family doctor" to come to your door and for the charge to be minimal, not eye-popping. Alas, the Norman Rockwell world was going to erode. "Progress" forges ahead, just like how the Morris area (including Delmar's beloved Donnelly) would get developed in the first place.
That earthy hiking guide would feel at home along the Wadsworth Trail. It's chapter 1 of Morris area history. It passed by Wintermute Lake. The train wiped out the need for it. The train also made Morris possible by 1871.
Last night at around 10 p.m., I felt a sudden inspiration to write poetry. I should stress that I don't really write poetry, rather I'm a song lyricist who on occasion writes verses that are meant to be presented narration-style with no melodic line.
Bill Anderson recorded material like this. I was discussing this with Jim Morrison at the newspaper once, and he mentioned how "Whispering Bill" could get maudlin. Yes he could. He came to perform in Morris in the early 1980s. I covered that for the Morris newspaper. I also got to interview "Whispering Bill" afterwards. I asked him to refresh my memory on what chainsaw company he did a commercial for, in the 1960s. He smiled and said "Homelite." He darn well should have smiled, because in the 1960s if you got on TV to do a simple commercial, you'd likely gain more fame with the masses than if you scored a couple song "hits." He was a nice man.
I also got to hear Anderson sing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in the mid-1980s. His song "Po' Folks" had impact. He joked that everyone who had been to Nashville's Fan Fair celebration for a week were now "po' folks." I have had no interest in visiting Fan Fair since it left the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. It has become too big and impersonal.
My poetry has to do with a couple intrepid souls traveling along the old Wadsworth Trail. One of them has a dream, envisioning the future Morris, Minnesota. He's like a psychic, envisioning the future Eul's Hardware, Willie's Super Valu and the University of Minnesota-Morris.
I hesitate to use the word poetry. My material is meant to be recited with vamp-style music in the background. A perfect example of this would be Walter Brennan's "Old Rivers." Anyway, I'm pleased to share with y'all "Wadsworth Trail Dreamin'." Hey, I'm dreaming of dining at one of the Longhorn restaurants in the Nashville area!
 
"Wadsworth Trail Dreamin' "
by Brian Williams
 
We were out along the Wadsworth Trail
Night beginning to spread its veil
Civilization far away
We had to feel like castaways
 
Still my soul was filled anew
As I longed for that morning dew
Sleeping outside without a tent
Darkness of night just came and went
 
Making some coffee to wake the dead
Got us feeling we should forge ahead
Facing the west where danger might lie
We're still undaunted, my partner and I
 
Prairie is wide, unbounded as heck
All the fresh air a human can get
Flowers and rivers make us feel awe
Eagles and owls issue their calls
 
Hoping the trail will stay dry for the day
So we can plug ahead, making our way
We can imagine that fort in the West
Named for a Civil War general, the best
 
Union was saved, and now we move on
One nation solid, clear under God
Man was endowed by Him to be free
U.S. was burgeoning under that creed
 
Here's a good place for a town, I thought
River's nearby, and lakes are about
I had a dream that it's good as done
Morris its name, it's second to none
 
Now look over there, a place for a store
Eul is the name with hardware galore
A place to get food, a welcome mat out
Willie's the man who gives out that shout
 
A college, my goodness, where wisdom is gained
UMM gives this town its share of fame
Two thousand students with energy high
Transforms the prairie, give a high five
 
I slowly awoke from that fantasy
Wondering if somehow it could be real
Eyes focused west with oxen and horse
We made our progress, dead on our course
 
Surely we got to that fort with its wall
Such a grand edifice giving its call
There at Fort Wadsworth we sat a spell
Having gone through both heaven and hell
 
Frontier was opening, no need to wait
That vast expanse looked vibrant and great
Owls and rabbits scurried at peace
Nature's whole kingdom there at our feet
 
I wondered if somehow that dream would come back
Of that small town not bold on the map
Morris its name, generous its fame
Not so far from our campfire flame
 
I made some more coffee, looked all around
Long in the future, those folks would abound
Still I can see the gem it will be
No doubt the prairie makes it so real
 
Those who might say the prairie is flat
As if there's nothing more to it than that
Are missing the vistas, the presence of God
In Morris we celebrate all He has brought
 
My partner and I just gave a sigh
Knowing the limitless landscape outside
We'd be supplied and take off once more
Ready to watch the bald eagle soar
 
Still I embraced the thought of that town
That danced in my head, such sights and sounds
Like of trains spitting smoke, moving so grand
And of kids playing music, in marching band
 
We can remember those pioneer days
The 19th Century hardscrabble ways
It all had to start in a humble domain
We ought to remember from where it all came
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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