Poem: The Little Kids (Robert and Wayne Knapp)

Wayne and Robert Knapp playing alongside the Peshtigo River, Taylor Rapids, Wisconson, c1920In our family’s history, few brothers were as close as Robert and Wayne Knapp. A year apart in age, and the youngest of the family for a long time, they were bound at the hip during the rough and tumble wilderness of the logging community, Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin. They came with their family to Oregon and Washington State under protest, leaving their carefree childhoods behind. But they never completely left it, continuing to memorialize and honor through stories and poems.

The Little Kids

The Sumas on the hill are glowing red,
Choke Cherries with their fruit tarty and sweet.
Brite leaves are fluttering to their mossy beds.
These memories to me just can’t be beat.

I see a pair of kids along a road,
A fish pole on each shoulder rhythm keep,
The worries of the day, they each unload
As they pad along the trailer in their bare feet.

Not a care and darn few worries on their minds
One dull Jack Knife between them I suppose.
Worn overalls expose their small behinds
Tho the least of all their thoughts were of their clothes.

The fish this day just simply wouldn’t bite.
The reason no one knew or seemed to care.
The evening sun was sinkin’ out of sight,
So they return empty handed, what a pair.

The long trail from the river bank was fun,
Tho their bellies were as empty as two gourds.
Those barefoot kids when hurried sure could run
And they loved the home that furnished bread and board.

Now they didn’t mind the milking of the cows
Nor too much the packing water and the wood
Tho they weren’t big enough to hold the plow
At picking rocks and roots did best they could.

Dry clover buds they rolled for cigarettes
You must know that they were ornery little squirts
Excuses manufactured you can bet,
In their little old blue overalls and shirts.

As free as that Wisconsin wind that blows
The songs they sang were different than todays.
One was “Bring Back My Blushing Rose,”
And “Drifting Back to Dreamland” brot great praise.

They also sang “Wreck of Old Ninety Seven”
And the Poplar limbs close by just seemed to raise,
As they’d point their little mugs rite up toward Heaven
I tell you folks, some of you’d be amazed.

The crude play toys were mostly made by hand
Just anything to pass the time away
They hunted over miles of unowned land
And were happy everywhere they chanced to stray.

robert and wayne knapp on old jim horse primely place rock pile taylor rapids wisconsin c1023Oh, it warn’t so long ago that one’s forgot,
About the “Old Back House” and family pot,
Or the smell of breakfast cookin’ in the morn
Nor those long and weedy rows of that field corn.

To return again is an expectant wish
Just to try again a mess of speckled fish
With eyelid closed the visions are so plain
Of Robert Knapp, and his dear brother Wayne.

Written circa 1965

Most Recent Articles by Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)


Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)

About Robert F. Knapp (1913-1994)

Robert F. Knapp was born Wausaukee, Wisconsin, in 1913, and moved with his family to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930s. His father, James Asa Knapp Jr., worked in the logging camps and rarely spent much time with his eight children. Eventually, James and the children's mother, Emma Beatrice Primley, divorced and Emma packed up the family and headed west. Robert grew up working odd jobs in logging camps, railroad camps, on farms, and taking what work could come his way until finding steady work and a home with his wife, Evelyn, in Monroe and Lake Stevens, Washington. He had four children and many grandchildren. Robert left behind a legacy of stories and poems written for a creative writing class throughout 1960-1980, writing of life growing up in Northern Wisconsin and the struggles to find work with a huge family to support through the Depression. Permission to reprint this has been graciously granted by the family of Robert F. Knapp with the hope that you will enjoy reading about the life and times of this amazing man.
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One Response to Poem: The Little Kids (Robert and Wayne Knapp)

  1. Pingback: The 1967 Trip Back to Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin | Family History

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