Woof & Weal in a poem on the Michigan Road
We are working tediously to create a Historic Michigan Road Byway application that will knock the knickers off of anyone who bothers to read it. One of our partners in Carroll County keeps coming up with great old sources of information on the Michigan Road. In one source a copy of a poem appeared that ran in the South Bend Tribune in 1929 when the road was turning 100 years old.
Do these guys know what they're talking about? They better since they're speaking about the Michigan Road at the Old Settlers' Meeting in Delphi on the 14th!
I admit I had to look up a couple of terms in the poem. Woof: a knitting term that refers to the area crossed by threads in the knit. Weal: the spirit or will of a people. Robin Adair? I'm still not quite sure, but evidently it was a ballad popular during the 1860s. You can even listen to it on this link: www.guitarnut.com/folktablature/the101bestsongs/robinadair.html
Despite the no longer politically correct term "redskin", this poem is pretty special:
The Michigan Road
by Esther Kathleen O'Keefe
A poem appearing in the South Bend Tribune, December 8, 1929
The Michigan Road; Oh the Michigan Road!
For more than a century romance has flowed
The length of this highway whose prairie and brake
Link sinuous river and glorified lake.
I wonder what secrets Lake Michigan's breeze,
I wonder what legends the whispering trees
Told redskins who beat down a trail unaware
That they marked the course of a great thoroughfare?
From Madison north on the Michigan Road,
The pioneer guided his oxen drawn load
Of mother and child on the perilous quest
That visioned a home in the unbroken west.
And later the towns that took root by the way,
Found old and young cheering one golden fall day
As boys who were dark-eyed and boys who were fair,
Marched south to the music of "Robin Adair".
Oh I never travel the Michigan Road,
But something of charm the past has bestowed
On each happy mile of this highway that bends
Intrigues me as laughter of long absent friends.
And so I could wish for the weal of my state
Triumphant in folk song, in history great,
No gift half as precious as this simple theme
Which colored the woof of the pioneer dream;
The neighborly spirit that crowned each abode
That Hoosiers called "home" on the Michigan Road.