By John Oliver, President, Historical Society

The Historical Society archives have a lot of stuff!

They hold books, quilts, photos, ledgers, Bibles, maps, newspapers, old tools and even a barber’s chair!

Members of the Historical Society are in the process of organizing and listing everything we have, which has led us to write this month’s series of articles on recent donations to our collection.

This week we look at a small book of poems!

Submitted photo
This is the cover of the small volume of poems published by local author Mary Overton in 1975. Mary wrote on a wide variety of subjects, including a lonely goose!

Now let me start off by saying that not just anyone can write a poem – not a good poem anyway.

I know, because I taught English for 39 years and trying to teach a teenager to write poetry is like trying to convince a fish to wear shoes!

But occasionally there comes a person who has a natural flair for rhyme and a desire to express themselves. That is a poet!

Of course poems don’t have to rhyme, but people tend to enjoy those that do and it is not a skill that comes easy.

Our poet was just such a person. She could look out the window and see a bird and be inspired…

“Mocking bird, Mocking bird

Springtime has come,

It’s time to build your nest

to raise your little ones.

When I wake up in the morn

and the sun is shining bright,

I like to watch you build your nest

then I’ll work with all my might.”

Mary McDonald Overton was just such a woman. She could sit down with a pencil and a pad of paper and jot down a poem on just about everything. Her book of poems has poems on sunsets, sunrises, holidays, family, a goat and a horse, country stores, neighbors, friends and especially her faith.

“I am never alone

No matter where I go,

God is right by my side

He helps me reach my goals.

I’m traveling down that narrow road

Though sometimes I almost fall,

God is still by my side

And helps me when I call.”

Mary Overton was not just a poet – she was a proud poet. Which is why she took it upon herself to have her little book of poems published and to pass them around to her family and friends.

As she stated in the book’s preface, she enjoyed sharing her poems with others. Mary would read her poems to the residents of the old Beene Nursing Home, at church and at school programs. So having her favorite ones printed and put into a little volume for others to read was the logical thing to do, and Mary did.

“A cow and a goose, on the Pat Fergusson Farm,

Have a lot in common, not a thing do they harm.

When you see one, you’ll see the other,

If another cow comes around, the goose will flog her!

A cow and a goose, draws a lot of attention,

The goose lost its mate, that I hate to mention.

She was so lonely, and didn’t know what to do,

So she took up with a cow, and no longer has the blues.”

Married to Bolton Overton and the mother of sons Larry and Bill, Mary Overton enjoyed writing poems but she got greater enjoyment from giving her little book to others so they could share in her joy. What a nice way to give of yourself.

We value the little book of poems, published in 1975, and recently given to us. Mary passed away in 2003, just two years after the death of her husband, but her children and grandchildren still live here and, no doubt cherish her memory and her way with words.

And our Historical Society archives will keep Mary Overton’s poems on a shelf for future generations to read and enjoy!