04 July 2014

the woman in the flag

Reitta Goodman was the grandmother of my friend T.R. Queen. when I was an undergrad at Kent State she rentd the back apartment of a house on Main St. owned by Mildred & Cecil Bumphrey. when I first met her Stanley Krippner had an apartment next to her. in 1963 Stan & Reitta & I watchd the Oscars from her livingroom. I often went to her place for sunday meals.  we'd order pizza or she'd make her famous salmon salad. she liked me enough to give me a key & I'd go there sometimes when she was at work to be alone. & in 1965 when Jau Billera came to town to interview me for "Poetry Seminar" we taped it at Reitta's.

I don't have a photo of her from those years. but she was a fixture in town. her white hair was instantly recognizable. & people wd see her -- usually in a tailord suit -- walking to work. she was the cashier at Green's Menswear.

Tom flunkd out of Kent & returnd to Elyria where he got a factory job. & then he moved to Las Vegas where he lived for 37 years. here's a poem I wrote in 1965:


Your grandmother told me
about your departure.
She said she hoped the flight
would be an easy one.
And then she started crying.

Tears fell against her glasses
until she took them off.
She looked as if she drowned
a century ago.

When she dried her eyes
and put her glasses back on
I told her I hoped
you had an easy flight, too.

after Reitta retired she went to Elyria & wd visit my mother from time to time. it was raining when she was buried at Standing Rock. Tom's parents barely spoke with me but then neither of them really liked me. his brother Denny was the only family member with whom I had a real conversation. I hadn't brought an umbrella.  I got soakd.

the reason I'm posting this on the 4th of july is because sometimes I remember Reitta on that holiday. this is the reason:

it's the cover which Tom did for my 1978 book Three Stories (A22 in my bibliography).  the woman in the flag in the center of the piece is a young Reitta on the 4th.


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Alex Gildzen said...

I never delete "real" comments but I do delete spam.