Sunday, October 06, 2019

Kay Hively: Something told the wild geese

For many years I ran a special poem in my newspaper column every October. The poem is "Something Told the Wild Geese," by Rachel Field. It always brought a comment or two from kind readers.

A couple of weeks ago I got a telephone call from a man who lives in Seneca, saying he was a fan of the poem. Then he told me something else. He noted that Rachel Field wrote a book, which was titled All This and Heaven Too. In 1938, it became a well-known movie starring the great actress, Bette Davis.

When this movie was being made, a family who had moved to California from McDonald County, Missouri, lived near the movie studios where it was filmed.

The family had several children who got jobs at the studios to help the family during those hard times. Before long, the children were asked to appear in several movies.

Besides All This and Heaven, Too, the kids were in such movies as The Bells of St. Mary's with Bing Crosby, Boys Town with Spencer Tracy, and several appeared in "Our Gang" and "The East Side Kids," comedies.

My friend from Seneca had a lot of stories about this family. The boy who prayed with Bette Davis is now over 80 years old and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. My Seneca friend still visits with him.

So, in honor of those enterprising kids, let me continue the custom of including "Something Told the Wild Geese" in a fall column.

Something told the wild geese 
It was time to go; 

Though the fields lay golden 
Something whispered, - 'snow'. 

Leaves were green and stirring, 
Berries, luster-glossed, 

But beneath warm feathers 
Something cautioned, - 'frost'. 

All the sagging orchards 
Steamed with amber spice, 

But each wild breast stiffened 
At remembered ice. 

Something told the wild geese 
It was time to fly - 

Summer sun was on their wings, 
Winter in their cry.

- Rachel Field

(Kay Hively is a historian, author and former editor, reporter and columnist for the Neosho Daily News and Neosho Post.)

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