Woody Guthrie, as he liked to be called, was born June 30, 1918 in Olney, Texas and died July 23, 1993 in Abilene, Texas. He was the son of Alvin L. Guthrie and Julia Lou Ella McCoy and had 4 sisters and 1 brother.
My parents divorced when I was just a small infant and as a result of a bitter ending, I never met my father face to face until I was 39 years old. Dad and I had one year of telephone conversations before we finally got together when I moved to Arizona. In all, we had face to face time of less than 3 weeks but 8 years of many long telephone conversations, which I now cherish!
Dad was married numerous times and had 3 daughters of which 2 still survive. He served in the Army during World War II from 1941-1945. He was many things to many different people. Some claimed he was a scoundrel and others said he was wonderful. He was a jack of all trades and could do just about anything he set his mind too. He delivered telegrams for Western Union as a kid, was a chef, woodworker, photographer, a poet (none published that I know of) and a musician, just to name a few.
As dad got older, he changed his ways, made amends and became a God-fearing man. He came from a long line of preacher’s so his change of attitude was not a surprise to me!
I was so very thankful that he had given me a lot of his family history before his death but I still know so little about his side of the family. There are so many unanswered questions about relatives that I can find nothing more on and to my knowledge there are no more “older” relatives to ask which is so sad. Dad’s wife has given me all of his papers, notes, etc. and I am so very grateful for them. They have filled a void that I had for many, many years. I’m still learning about this man I never knew as a child and had so little time with as an adult and I’m sure I may never know all there is.
Please understand that I have a wonderful loving step-father that has been a part of my life for over 50 years and I love him with all my heart and consider him my dad. But, finding my natural father finally put to rest the doubts and unknowns that I had for years and was well worth the effort to pursue him, at least for me.
What follows is the poems that he wrote and I hope that you will find them interesting.
He always hoped to publish them one day and now they are!
The Sweetest Word of All
Golden as the sunshine
Lighting up a room.
Fragrant as a rosebud
Bursting into bloom.
Playing on our heart strings
with music like no other.
Sweetest word in all the world
the precious name of Mother.
written by Woodrow C. Guthrie,
Mother’s Day, May, 1940
and given to his mother.
by Pfc. Woodrow C. Guthrie
while at Anzio Beachhead Italy.
Hazy dreams surround me.
As thoughts go fleeting by.
Like flimsy ghost of yesteryear
Eludes my mind and eyes.
While grasping for those fleeting ghost.
Of memories, old and dear.
I find they’er growing day by day.
Time and space has dimmed it all.
Memories of the home I knew.
Was there ever peace and love.
Was there ever-even a you.
I try to picture within my mind.
In dreams I try to see.
But I can within me, find no dream.
This, then is reality.
Never Look Back
composed by W. C. Guthrie,
Brownwood, Texas, Sept. 18, 1939
Don’t ever look back
always a head
the future is waiting, the past is dead.
The future is opening, page by page like a book
Forget the past, always ahead you must look.
Remember, that with the coming of dawn
Anew world is born, an old world is gone.
So bury your sorrows, your heartaches and tears
In a grave alongside that of all the past years.
And face the future happy, smiling and brave
and on the tomb of the past
these words engrave
DON’T EVER LOOK BACK, ALWAYS AHEAD,
THE FUTURE IS WAITING, THE PAST IS DEAD!
I Found the Last Rose
composed by W. C. Guthrie
1939 in June
While strolling through the garden
this morn, so sweet and rare,
I found a lone Rose, the last of the summer
Hanging on the bush, so wilted, so all Alone,
To the naked eye, its beauty was gone.
But to me it was sweeter than all the others
—that were there.
As I plucked that last Rose—with infinite care,
I thought, how like the last Rose our
journey through life;
Bloom out fresh and young, only to wither
in sorrow and strife.
The last Rose in the garden, I found wilted there
will be my reminder of happiness, joy, sorrow and care.
Flower Is Faded
June 1943 on board ship for No. Africa
(W.C. Guthrie collection)
The flower is faded, all crushed and torn
the tablet is water stained and worn.
It cost at most a five cent piece
But its value to me shall never cease.
The dog-eared corners, dirty pages and all
From their place in my heart shall never fall.
To you who look its only a book.
A small tablet of paper so cheap
But its a token to me-from a loved one to keep.
A keepsake of love to compare with no other
It came to me with Love from Mother.
Thoughts of An Army Recruit
by W.C. Guthrie
enroute to Lubbock to be sworn in, Oct. 7, 1940
NOW I am gone from old friends and loved ones
Like a young bird, my weak wings to try,
With new scenes and new faces around me
We’ve parted with tears in our eyes.
As the old train rolls on its puffing way
I hear its whistle screaming through the night
Taking me to a new life to-morrow
after this things will never seem right.
Mother, it hurt me so to leave you
it broke your dear heart I know,
But forever in my heart I’ll keep your image
As to a new life to-morrow I go.
May the Father see fit, That’s in Heaven
For a new lease on life to me give.
Now dear God, Father of all please protect them
Give Dear Mother the strength to be brave
Give her knowledge that I always will love her
E’er till this old body rots in the grave.
Will you love me when I’m Old?
by W. C. Guthrie, April 5, 1944
Anzio Beachhead, Italy
Will you love me when I’m Old?
And my hair has turned to grey,
And my joints are slow and creaking
And my manhoods past away?
When my pep and passions left me
And I’m just a shrunken frame
Creeping, moaning, grouching, groaning
Will you love me just the same?
When my rheumatism gets me
and my second childhood’s here
And I drink my rot-gut freely
With my bare feet on a chair
If, with patience you can stand it
And a love for me retain
When you’ve grown so fat and sloppy
As a Queen to me you’ll reign.
by W. C. Guthrie, March 15, 1944
My pen runs on—in mad wild thoughts
Fate is having her bitter jest,
Mocking—and laughing–and grasping–
I should break my bonds and be
Alone again–Calm and free
As the Birds above me–winging high
Up—Up—to the quiet and peaceful sky.
My boon companion—-monotony!
Endless days and nights for me.
Time stands still—and—yet goes on
A new days here—and then it’s gone!
Going on and on—IS there no end?
Gnawing Loneliness my only friend.