The dank and drear of Election Day and its hangover were dispelled by the appearance in my mailbox of books from two most admirable friends.
John Rezelman—poet, wit, nonagenarian with “the broadest smile and the deepest memory you’ll ever meet,” in the words of local historian Kirk House—has published Bushels, Barrels, Bags and Boxes: A History of Potato Growing in Steuben County, New York (H&H Press, 980 Locey Creek Road, Middlebury Center, PA 16935). The Great Steuben County Potato Boom has found its wise, wry, and affectionate historian.
The rest of the country may be going to hell, but in Steuben County it’s literary springtime. Martha Rittenhouse Treichler’s Black Mountain to Crooked Lake: Poems 1948-2010, with a Memoir of Black Mountain College (http://www.foothillspublishing.com/2010/id69.htm), includes delightful memories of Martha’s time at the legendary proto-Beat North Carolina school, where she studied with, among others, Charles Olson. Martha is a very fine poet; her work as student (with Olson as sometime collaborator), homesteader, and grandmother is represented therein. I was deeply moved by what she calls her “Old Woman Sonnets,” in particular “On the Death of My Husband.”
I wrote about Martha and Bill Treichler in Look Homeward, America; Mildred Loomis, “grandmother of the counterculture,” profiled them as the model multigenerational do-it-yourself family in Alternative Americas. The Treichlers are remarkable–and they are as real as Martha’s grandparents:
Friends since they were eight
AND AT EIGHTY
They still sat in the same chair
John, Martha: as Gloria Grahame told Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, “I’m glad I know ya.”