In July I wrote a blog post about a book called Writing in Community. My new friends, Becky Breed and Lucy Adkins wrote this book on the premise of their many years in a generative writing group called, Write On!. This group meets in Lincoln, Nebraska each month, and although it’s a writing family that has been together for more than ten years, I was honored to be invited to sit in and participate with them this past week.
What a treat!
This group is a generative writing group. They come together and the group leader, Lucy, gives them a writing prompt. The night I visited, the prompt was to write a poem about a place we remembered fondly, and in the poem we were to pinpoint something we most identified the place by.
The amazing thing was, after twenty minutes of writing, the seven members of this group read—not just nice poems. Not just good poems. But outstanding poems.
One woman wrote about New Orleans. Another about New York, and another about the mountains. There was a poem about a crumbling mansion, and another about worldly travels and the death of a king, and yet another about a family gathering spot in a pasture during a lunar eclipse.
But there was one poem, the final poem, that had a simple topic I believed would resound with any woman from the eastern part of Nebraska who remembered a store called Miller & Paine. To test my theory, I put a status on my author’s page, asking who remembered the Lincoln department store. The thread was fun to read and so I contacted the author of the poem and asked if I could publish it here on my blog. She agreed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Miller & Paine Department Store circa 1950
—with a line from Dr. Seuss
by Dee Ritter
It made you think of women, beautiful women,
trailing a hint of Shalimar, White Shoulders,
Channel No. 5.
It made you think of mink and sable, silk
lingerie, crystal stem-ware and fine china.
The revolving door, heavy with glass and brass
and full of promise, spun into a woman’s world—
feathered hats, and patent leather pumps,
gloves, handbags and hand-dipped chocolates.
And after the shopping the ladies lounge,
hushed and peaceful in pink and white,
scented with nail polish, henna and bleach
from the Circle of Beauty Salon.
It made you think—Tea Room and pot pies,
macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls.
It made you glad that you were a woman.
“Don’t cry because it’s over,
smile because it happened.”