In The Attic with Wilbur D. Nesbit

Image by Janet Kruskanp.

I had originally planned to post this with the other “dolls in the attic” poem (see previous post) but after doing some  research on Wilbur D, Nesbit, I decided to separate the poems so I could include more about him and his work.

IN THE ATTIC.

Up in the attic where mother goes
is a trunk in a shadowed nook –
A trunk — and its lid she will oft unclose
As it were a precious book.
She kneels at its side on the attic boards
And tenderly, soft and slow,
She counts all the treasures she fondly hoards –
The things of the long ago.

A yellow dress, once the sheerest white
That shimmered in joyous pride –
She looks at it now with the girl’s delight,
That was hers when she stood a bride.
There is a ribbon of faded blue –
She keeps with the satin gown;
Buckles and lace — and a little shoe;
Sadly she lays that down.

One lock of hair that is golden still
With the gold of the morning sun;
Yes, and a dollie with frock and frill –
She lifts them all one by one.
She lifts them all to her gentle lips
Up there in the afternoon;
Sometimes the rain from the eave trough drips
Tears with her quavered croon.

Up in the attic where mother goes
is a trunk in a shadowed place –
A trunk — with the scent of a withered rose
On the satin and shoe and lace.
None of us touches its battered lid,
But safe in its niche it stays
Scared to all that her heart had his –
Gold of the other days.

– W.D. Nebsit in Chicago Tribune.

New Castle News ( New Castle, Pennsylvania) Oct 28, 1904

Wilbur D. Nebsit was also the author of An Alphabet of History, the FRANKLIN image above taken from the book, which can be viewed/read on the Open Library website. I linked the Google book version of this book in my The Unknown Blue and Gray post, which also includes his poem by the same name.

*  *  *  *  *

A very brief Masonic Bio can be found HERE. Some of his Freemason poetry can be found HERE.

Below are  some articles that give a little more insight:

Image from The Indianapolis Star – Apr 4, 1914

RACE DRAWS LARGE GROUP OF WRITERS

Scribes From Afar Arrive to Describe Speed Battle for Papers and Journals.

The 500-mile Motor Speedway race has drawn men from two continents, whose names are known to the world of letters. These men will relate the human interest tale of the struggle of men and steel machines against time and danger in the columns of publications throughout the world. Gellett Burgess is one of the many who will pen the history of the race.

Wilbur D. Nesbit, author of poems, comic operas and books, is another. He will write the story of the race for Harper’s Weekly….

The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana) May 30, 1912

CHICAGO HOOSIERS ELECT.

Wilbur D. Nesbit Made President of Indiana Society.

Wilbur D. Nesbit, the well-known bard, was elected president during his absence in New York….

The Indianapolis Star – Jan 17, 1912

*  *  *  *  *

I clipped this particle biographical sketch from a book on Ancestry.com:

Source Information:

Ancestry.com. Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Dunn, Jacob Piatt,. Indiana and Indianans : a history of aboriginal and territorial Indiana and the century of statehood. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1919.
Image from the Culver-Union Township Public Library websiteCulver Through the Years
*  *  *  *  *
The following poem by Wilbur D. Nesbit appeared in The Indianapolis Star as part of:
the remarkable sermon delivered by Wilbur D. Nesbit, the famous Hoosier writer, in the Mt. Vernon Methodist Episcopal pulpit at Baltimore last Sunday…
A handful of dust, that is blown by the wind
That is sporting with whatever thing it may find.
It goes swirling and whirling and scattering on
Till it puffs into nothingness — then it is gone –
A handful of dust.
It may be a king who of old held his rule
O’er a country forgotten — it may be his fool
Who had smiles on his lips and had tears in his heart;
But the king, or the fool; who may tell them apart
In a handful of dust?
It may be some man who was mighty and proud,
Or a beggar, who trembled and crept through the crowd;
Or a woman who laughed, or a woman who wept,
Or a miser — but centuries long have they slept
In a handful of dust.

It may be a rose that once burst into flame,
Or a maiden who blushed as she whispered a name
To its ruby-red heart — and her lips were as read –
But no one remembers the words that she said,
In this handful of dust.

A handful of dust — it is death, it is birth.
It is naught; it is all since the first day of earth;
It is life, it is love, it is laughter and tears –
And it holds all the mystery lost in the years –
A handful of dust.

The Indianapolis Star — Jun 15, 1913
Call of “30” for Poet
Wilbur D. Nesbit, vice-president of the Wm. H. Rankin and Company Advertising Agency, and an author of renown, died Saturday at the Iroquois hospital in Chicago, thirty minutes after he had collapsed on the street.
During his career, Nesbit had served as humorous writer on the old Inter-Ocean, the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore American and the Chicago Evening Post. In more recent years he had allied himself with an advertising agency, but was a frequent contributor to magazines and had acquired much fame as an after-dinner speaker. As a poet, he ranked with the best. One of his finest contributions, which will always endear his name to the patriotic people, was entitled “Your Flag and My Flag.” This poem appeared in the Baltimore American in 1902, and was circulated throughout the country during the World war. A verse will not be amiss at this time:
“Your flag and my flag,
And how it flies today,
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood -red
The stripes forever gleam;
Snow-white and soul-white
The good forefathers’ dream.”
Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Aug 23, 1927
Famous Folk
Wilbur Dick Nesbit, the poet and journalist, whose first novel, “The Gentleman Ragman,” has just been published, was born in Xenia, O., in 1871. He began his career as printer and later worked as a reporter. His reputation has been won largely as a contributor of verse to magazines.
While Nesbit was finishing “The Gentleman Ragman” he was spending a few weeks in a country town in Indiana. He had sent nearly all of the revised manuscript to his publishers, but certain details of the completion of the plot had been the subject of discussion between himself and a friend connected with the publishing house.
One day a telegram for Nesbit was received at the village telegraph office. It read:
“What are you going to do about Annie Davis and Pinkney Sanger?”
Annie is the heroine of “The Gentleman Ragman;” Pinkney is the villain, if there is one in the book. The local telegraph operator personally delivered the message, and Nesbit wrote this reply:
“Will marry Annie Davis and shoot Pinkney Sanger as soon as I return to Chicago.”
The operator stared at Nesbit wonderingly when he read the message, but Nesbit did not fathom that stare until the morning when he took the train for home, when the village marshal stepped up and said meaningly:
“Mr. Nesbit, I would advise you, as an officer of the law, sir, not to do anything rash when you get to Chicago.”
Cambridge Jeffersonian (Cambridge, Ohio) Dec 20, 1906
The above poem is signed with Wilbur D. Nesbit‘s alternate nom de plumeJosh Wink. (see mention in below article.)
Bedford Gazette (Bedford, Pennsylvania) Apr 25, 1902

Des Moines Daily Leader (Des Moines, Iowa) Oct 13, 1901
*   *   *   *
RAY HIGGINS:
Cracker Barrel
WILBUR DICK NESBIT expounded a brand of patriotism that seems to have fallen out of fashion in the current age when draft dodgers become folk heroes and the American flag is publicly despoiled.
Born in Xenia Sept. 16, 1871, the son of a Civil War veteran and court bailiff here, he grew up in Cedarville where he learned to set type on the old Cedarville Herald in which paper his first wrtings appears.
After two years he went to an Anderson, Ind. papers as a reporter, then to the Muncie (Ind.) Star in a similar capacity. There his copy attracted the attention of John T. Brush, an Indianapolis clothing merchant, who put him in charge of his store advertising.
From there he joined the ad staff of the Indianapolis Journal and next became a feature writer for the Baltimore American under the nom de plume Josh Wind [k]. After three years he was lured to the staff of the Chicago Tribune where he conducted the column “A Line O’ Type Or Two” and then joined the Evening Post.
*   *   *
AFTER HE BECAME director of the copy staff for the Makin Advertising Co. he bought an interest in it and changed the name to Rankin Advertising Agency. HE co-authored the musical comedy “The Girl of My Dreams” and turned out reams of poetry in some of which he collaborated with cartoonist Clare Briggs.
His collection, “Trail to Boyland,” reminisced about Greene County and Cedarville in the pastoral patern of James Whitcomb Riley. He also published “After Dinner Speeches and How to Make Them,” “Sermons in Song,” and “Poems of Homely Philosophy.” His “Your Flag and My Flag” was recited in most school classrooms.
Nesbit died Aug. 20, 1927. Recently his friend and admirer, ex-Cedarvillian, Fred F. Marshall, came up with his timely and appropriate poem entitled “The U.S.A.,” which follows:
There’s them that wants to get us skeered
By tellin’ us o’ things they feared.
They say we’re goin’ to th’ dogs,
Th’ gov’nment has skipped some cogs
An’ that ef we don’t trust to them
Our futur’ wont be worth a dem!
But I want to say
Th’ U.S.A.
Ain’t figgerin’ to run that way.
I’ve noticed things fer many years;
I’ve seen these men arousin’ cheers –
These high-hat men with long-tail coats
That tells us how to cast our votes,
I’ve noticed, too, their idees is
That votin’s all the people’s biz
But I want to say
Th’ U.S.A.
Ain’t only jest election day.

I’ve seen ‘em lift their trimblin’ arm
An do their p’intin’ with alarm
Afore election! An’ I’ve seen
How they don’t do much work between
Elections! Seem to save their brains
For workin’ durin’ th’ campaigns
An’ I want to say
The U.S.A.
Don’t give them fellers its O.K.

There’s one or two that I wont name
That keeps a firm hand-holt on Fame
By stormin’ up an’ down the road
A-tellin’ us what long we’ve knowed
That is, they rise to heights sublime
Along about election time
Yit I want to say
The U.S.A.
Ain’t figured yit to turn their way.

It ain’t th’ men that tells our sins
That almost al’ays sometimes wins –
Its them that rolls their sleeves an’ helps
While these yere talkin’ humans yelps
That makes us know our native land
Has got a craw that’s full o’ sand
An’ makes us say
The U.S.A
Is settin’ tight an’ here to stay!

Xenia Daily Gazette (Xenia, Ohio)  Nov 2, 1972
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5 Responses to “In The Attic with Wilbur D. Nesbit”

  1. HelloDearFriend Says:

    Hello there,

    Thank you so much for posting all of this information regarding Wilbur D. Nesbit. It’s been enlightening. I was at a flea market today and was drawn to a little book laying on the shelf. It’s Entitled “Yesterdays With You.” The exterior shows obvious signs of age. The copyright inside is 1924 P.F.Volland Company. The prose contained within is absolutely lovely and in perfect condition. I had to have it. I’m not certain if you’ve read this piece written by Wilbur D. Nesbit, I have yet to find it on-line, but if your interested I would be more than willing to share it with you.

    A sincere thank you. I’m pleased to own a touch of his history.

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Thank you for posting the information on Mr. Nesbit. Information about him is so hard to find.

    I was sitting reading an embroidered sample above the TV this morning. One I have read a zillion times. A copy of the exact one that was in my bedroom 55 years ago. I always wondered who wrote it, and today decided to google it.

    Wanting to know more about the author that wrote “All to myself”, I googled his name and found your website. Thank you for posting all this information about him. Makes my sampler even more personal than it already is.

    • oldnews Says:

      You are very welcome! I thought it was a beautiful poem, and I also had no idea who he was, so I went to work trying to find out. Glad I did.

  3. SKMurphy, Inc. » Memorial Day 2014 Says:

    […] I was reading “The Paths of Long Ago” a 1925 book of poems by Wilbur D. Nesbit and came across this one that is apropos Memorial […]

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