The pungent and sweet aroma of wheat straw cured in stooks and that earthy and faintly wine-like musk of sheaves piled high were so common in the early days of our pioneers. In this classic early 1920s photo the big crew works with tractors, threshing machine, horses, and wagons to complete the vital district harvest just in time for winter. That lone family car had likely just arrived packed with with lunch and refreshments for the busy boys. Photo from Trail Grown Over

Reflections: D.A. Morrow’s early Ponoka poetry

This week’s Reflections looks at the Morrow family and the poetry that came with one member

By Mike Rainone for the News

Dan and Minnie Morrow, along with their children Leslie and Eva would ship their worldly belongings into the new Grand Meadow district west and south of Ponoka in 1901, where they diligently began to establish their homestead at the SW 2-42-26-W of the 4th.

Shelter was the first order of the day and with good neighbourly help their first house was built, plastered, and made snug for the forthcoming Alberta winter. The history books claim that the Morrow house was built so well that they were able to move it to a nearby location in 1916 with the assistance of neighbours and 16 teams of horses.

Those were the days of hardship everywhere in the area, but they were also the times of the extreme closeness of the people. Homemade entertainment was a-plenty, along with socials, house parties, dancing, and skating, where everyone walked a half-mile to the river and gathered around the roaring fire for great fun after a hard day or week of work. Dan Morrow would soon become a very popular figure at these gatherings, singing songs while Minnie chorded on the organ, as well as reciting the poems that he loved to write and telling wonderful stories to the young children. His poems were published in his book, ‘Homespun Rhymes’, in 1948 and would become very popular near and far, very vividly telling the colourful and challenging tales of our early pioneer families. Here are just a few examples of his poetic skills and humour.

The Pioneer

by D. A. Morrow (1941)

He strode behind his slow ox team across the prairies dry,

And his eyes were fixed on the westering sun and ‘Westward’ was his cry;

Till he came at last to the great park-lands, the sweetest land ere known.

And ‘Here’ said he, ‘our journey ends, here we will build our home.’

With fire and axe a place he cleared on which to build that home;

It was toil for and sweat for him and his, ere the first crop could be sown.

And the black sod slipped from his smooth mold board down a furrow without a flaw,

While his ‘Tractor’ was driven with whip or goad, and answered to ‘gee’ and ‘haw’.

And many a weary task he did; hard work, his days did rule.

Yet freely gave from his meager hoard, that the children might have school.

Remember, oh children of radio, ere you utter that hard luck wail,

That the pioneer won not his farm by sipping a gin cocktail.

As you glide along o’er a surfaced road, guiding your modern car,

Give thought to him who here did know ‘The God of things as they are’.

For never again will we see his like.he stands without a peer-

The man who for us, blazed the trail. God rest you, Pioneer.

To my valentine

She’s very young, and oh so fair, with clear blue eyes and light brown hair, a dimple on her chin.

Demure, she stands in front of me, and then seats herself upon my knee, a word or smile to win.

Perched on the arm of my old chair, the while she tries to curl my hair, than tells me she’s my own.

She tweaks my ear, away she goes, and perhaps she also pulls my nose. Granddaughter, blue eyed Joan.

The Taxpayer’s song (Federal tax budget 1943)

Lets sing a song of taxes, a pocket full of cash.

When you go to pay your taxes now, T’will settle well your hash.

You’ll need at least a million before you can cut a dash, as we go mooching along.

Oh, there’s a tax on your underwear, a tax upon your coat, while the tax upon tobacco is the one that gets my goat.

It’s enough to drive a citizen to jumping off a boat, as we go marching on.

Dan and Minnie were always very active in the district, especially expressing a strong voice for the farmers and asking for a fair price for their products. Their son Leslie served overseas in the American Army and died in France in 1918, while daughters Eva and Esther were educated in Ponoka. Eva married Roy Sauder and moved to B.C., and Esther married Duncan McMillan and farmed the home-place. Minnie Morrow died at their favourite farm home in October 1933 and Dan passed away in October 1948, leaving a proud family legacy, favourite traditions, and countless cherished memories for family generations to carry on into the future.

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