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.


jim said…
One thing's for sure -- people know so little about the Michigan Road that if we made it all up and sounded confident, we'd get away with it!
Anonymous said…
just two more guys living off the taxpayer
hoosier reborn said…
I'm sure anon is just one of my close friends trying to get my goat....or he could be one of my arch political enemies. At any rate, what they should know is that we've been traveling all over Indiana on our own dime and gladly so.

Regardless, some things are worthy of public funds, which I happen to believe that this is one. I have a blog post bouncing around in my head about democracy not always being the cheapest form of government, and for whatever reason we think when it comes between capitalism and democracy that capitalism should win out. A sad, sad commentary on where we are as a "democracy".
Anonymous said…
Well sure things you support are worthy of public funding.
hoosier reborn said…
you're kind of a dork, or curmugeon-if I spelled that right. Of course, if you revealed your identity, we might discover that you are on the public take, right? that seems to be the duplicity of most anti-government folks....once you talk to them long enough you find that either they are or were employed with taxpayer dollars, or that they make hefty incomes off the taxpayer. Not to sound self-righteous, but my gosh, if I had only been paid for all my volunteer time I might be a rich man today.
Anonymous said…
you are headed down the wrong road. you have stooped to name calling "dork" you live by dreaming up projects to be funded by tax payers and I am the dork haha
hoosier reborn said…
hmmm, no, there are legitimate dorks in this world and somone who spouts off about something they obviously have no understanding of, is, in my opinion a dork if not worse. No one is dreaming up taxpayer funded projects...I think you might have me confused with my former employer
Anonymous said…
let's arm wrestle.

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