Dedicated to Leslie Otho “Chalk” McBride (1892 to 1968)
and Iva Pearl Shattuck McBride (1894 to 1977)
Andrew Shattuck McBride
From Dad I know my grandfather Chalk was pale, short, heavily
muscled, with forearms big as hams (fists like sledgehammers).
I didn’t get to know him; we met one time, and I was an infant.
I know that he was a smithy, a mechanic, a wildcat oil driller,
and a businessman. His wife Iva Pearl Shattuck was a grammarian
and school teacher. During the Great Depression they paid off
company debts rather than declare bankruptcy. Chalk scrambled
for money. He resurrected an old skill of crafting fine Irish-style
lace (or tattering) to bring in money for food to feed their family.
Chalk and Iva crafted a sort of fine lace: they knitted together
essentials and kept their family intact.
Hard times and pain have returned. During this Great Recession
I’ve watched as a first snowfall knit together branches of
deciduous trees into natural finery and a semblance of lace.
I put aside most of what I know of Chalk, all but an image of
him with battered hands and gnarled fingers weaving fine lace
for Iva, Claire, Bonnie, Ruth and her twin brother Richard
(who would become my father). Now, these people – and my
mother Sally Kirkpatrick McBride - are all dead; I am the last
McBride of my line. I use my father’s mother’s maiden name
with pride. As I work on what is essential, I keep this fine lace –
this work of love – before me in gratitude and as example.
Andrew Shattuck McBride is a poet and writer based in Bellingham, Washington. His poems are published or forthcoming in Dreams Wander On, bottlerockets, Prune Juice: A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss, and Change, The Bellingham Herald, and Haibun Today. Writer's blog.