E. L. Sawyer never thought of himself as a poet and his writings are "just rhymes". After starting life out in Creston, Iowa as a journalist, he switched to his father's profession, railroading, when he realized how little writing paid. An accident took his arm in 1904 and he was compensated enough to start a series of businesses, but his passion was always looking around at the world and rhyming about it. During the Depression, he and his wife lived in a cabin in Trento, Missouri.
When he saw an invention of the “modern age” such as the streamlined Zephyr train or a German Zeppelin or a Florida ornithopter, he wrote a rhyme. He celebrated his heroes: Lindberg when he crossed the Atlantic, Will Rogers and Wiley Post when they were killed in a plane crash, Edison upon his death, and Casey Jones when the Lord contracted him to build a railroad bridge across the River Styx, all in rhyme.
When feeling sorry for himself or remembering the old times or celebrating the joy of family, he wrote a rhyme. He wrote rhymes to admonish his son not to be “too big for his britches”, to remind us to do a good deed and be ourselves and not boast and one to extol voters to take their responsibility seriously. When the first world series was broadcast on the radio in 1925, E. L. was there giving his commentary, in rhyme. In the end, he wrote many rhymes about death, but he never wrote a poem.
E. L. Sawyer was my great grandfather, my father’s grandfather. A hand-typed book of his rhymes sat on my shelf for twenty-five years until the death of my favorite cousin, Sally. It is for her that I am publishing our Grandpa Sawyer’s Just Rhymes.
Read an excerpt from Just Rhymes
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