Pearls In Our Past - Hartford MI A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan





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The Pack

by Rebekah Sells

I met a man a few years back

He had bowed legs and a brown leather pack

I asked him about his bag one day

It's nothing but memories, was all he had to say
I pressed him further,
What does it contain?

The only things that 
can ease this old man's pain.

I questioned him about his past

what had put the creases in his browned face

He began to weave a story about his life

proving he was the last of a great race

One by one he removed his treasures

Once again reliving their pleasures.

A lock of hair, black and course
This, he said was from my best horse

I rode him from Montana to Kentucky

over what would be a two year journey

The knife he brought forth was antique and rusted

His face fell a bit when he said

With blood it's been crusted.

Next a scarf, dust blown, threadbare

His eyes got misty

My girl, she wore this in her hair

She gave it to me when I began to travel

I kept it tied to Charger's saddle.

One more item he withdrew from his sack

An old faded shirt he'd worn on his back

My girl made this shirt long, long ago

His eyes revealed emotion he'd not meant to show

I wore this faded garment almost every day

Then I realized my hair had turned gray

Old Charger'd been out to pasture for years

He paused, bowed his head, dried his tears

The old cowboy days are in the past

I just hope the memory of them will last.

He looked at me then, deep in my soul

What he saw there I'm not sure I know

But he reached out his worn leather pack

Here, he said, help me keep the memory clear

and bring the old days back

He gave me a look I'll not soon forget

and placed in my hands the pack with no sign of regret.

He left me then, that weathered cowboy

My emotions a mingling of sadness and joy

I'd met my soul mate, that old man of the West

To keep his memories alive I'd do my best

The old leather sack is enshrined in my case

And ancient glass cabinet wherein my treasures I place

I look at the pack often and 

think of my wanderer and his faithful steed Charger

I realize then that would we all meet the past

Our hearts and minds would grow so much larger.


About the author, Rebekah Sells

     I got the idea to write the poem one night when I had just returned from a visit with my great grandparents.  After I'd written it, my mom interpreted it for me, as she tends to do with all my poems.  My great grandfather, Hank Velthouse, 96, is the inspiration of my old cowboy.  While he was never an Old West cowboy, he is my living link to the past that I find so intriguing, perhaps he is the reason for my interest.  The pack and its contents represent all the memories he and my great grandmother have passed on to the rest of the family.  The glass shrine is my mind and heart, in which I keep my most treasured possessions.

     Rebekah is a junior at Hartford High School. Her poem, The Pack, was published in the Hartford Public Schools Newsletter, March, 2002, Volume 3, Number 3.  

     The Pack is a copyrighted poem and cannot be reprinted or published without expressed written permission from the author, Rebekah Sells.  Please email the webmaster for contact information.


Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 20, 2014