Heyday’s Past


The heyday’s passed
and cracks have drained
the party’s life blood,
but one last fountain
plays a Bessie Smith solo:
“Nooo-body knows you
when you’re down and out.
In my pocket? Not one penny.
And my friends? I haven’t any.
Mmmm, I done felt so low.”
Wind whistles through
pines like syncopated
saxophone fanfares.
Grass chokes bricks
where beaded dresses once
punctuated the Charleston.
“Don’t look at me
in that tone of voice,”
the fountain burbles,
with Dorothy Parker‘s words.
The air is cold with ghosts.
But I’m warm, remembering
my Grandmother Louise,
nurse, teacher and flapper.

Copyright 2016 Brenda Davis Harsham

Notes: Why have I never danced the Charleston in a beaded dress? Have you? Do you have a flapper in your family tree? Mine was black sheep, maverick and pioneer in one charming, take-no-prisoners woman. I wish I’d known her, but I catch glimpses of her in her descendants, including me, and I love stories about her from Engadine to Kalamazoo.

10 thoughts on “Heyday’s Past

  1. Really love the idea of this! 🙂 What these old fountains could tell of all they’ve seen in history! 😉 Love the colour, it’s very pretty – a ladies fountain for sure!!

    I don’t know if there were any flappers in my family. I’m sure my grandmother on my mothers side would have been one if she had been the right age, I think she knew how to dance to the Charleston. She always had a mind of her own, could be quite controversial just for the hell of it! But her young days were the early 30’s, I think the flappers were almost over by then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My grandmother was quite a character: chasing men, rowing across to Canada during prohibition, tramping on trains, stowing away on steamships and never accepting limitations of any sort. I wish I’d known her, but luckily her daughter, my aunt, is generous with her memories.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was quite imaginative and transcendent, of another era, Brenda. I once dressed as a flapper for Halloween. We all liked raiding real closets of stuff versus store bought costumes. I am sure the flapper dress was one of my Grandma Oldrieve’s since she was smaller built while my Mom’s mother, Grandma Mattson was of sturdy German “stock.” 🙂 My great aunt Marie was often encouraging to my girl cousins and me, to be dancers, musicians or artists to “add flair to our life.”
    I love how you pass these traits on to your children, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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