Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Drummond Island" - a poem by Buster B. Bailey

There is a Gem of an Island, a perfect jewel in the sea
Surrounded by the water of Huron, it is the world to me.

At the mouth of the St. Mary's River, far from the cities turmoil
That is where my people settled, logging and tilling the soil

Netting the sturgeon and whitefish, catching trout in the streams
Rearing their families of children, always dreaming their dreams.

Sailing their boat in the Harbor . . . on missions of mercy and fun
Visiting with the Indians, homing when day is done.

Such were the stories told me, By Grandma, Mother and Dad
As we sat by the fire in the evening, when I was a little lad.

They told of crossing the river on ice that was treacherous and thin
With only a prayer to sustain them, they told of the fabulous Finn.

She with her hatchet, and singing, leading her pitiful band,
Staking out their homesteads, hoping to settle the land.

Clearing the grass from the marshes, coiling it up for hay;
Digging ditches to drain them, toiling day after day.

Clearing the land of boulders, splitting cedar for shakes
or pulling hard on whipsaw, for a home that a pioneer makes.

So was the Island settled by hunger, laughter, and tears
By sacrifice, sorrow and labor through all those turbulent years.

Then later came the woodsmen, the lumberman and his mills
taking the cedar out the swamps, the pine trees from off the hills.

Sleighing them down to the rivers, piling them up high at the dumps,
laying waste to the forests, leaving nothing but stumps.

After that, came the fires, burning the debris and trash,
Leaving the gutted earth, smoke blackened and covered with ash.

Years it took to recover and look like an Island should
But nature has a way of healing and the tourists found it good.

They came just a few when they started and
then there were more and more,
Building their cabins and houses, making roads to the shore.

Taking over our Island with everything modern and neat,
Electricity in the houses, pavement covers the streets.

Yachts abound in the Harbor, airplanes speed above,
Oh, They have invaded this Island,
but it's still the "Gem" That I Love.

Poem "Drummond Island" by Buster B. Bailey (September 14, 1907 - September 2, 1983)

Photo from the collections of George Litchard
Shows Harry Sahs (sic) from the Detroit News, and kneeling is Buster Bailey
Potaganissing Bay , Drummond Island, Michigan

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