A message from Grandpa

Back in my childhood days it seemed to be a girlie thing to have an autograph book and collect autographs. I know my sister did and so, too, did my wife. And here’s a message from her Grandpa from 1957, as recorded in her book.


We can see he wrote this on 26th September 1957 and the message reads.

Build yourself a strong box
Fashion each part with care
And when you have made it as strong as your hand can make it
Put all your troubles there.
Hide there each thought of your failure and each bitter cup that you quaff
Lock all your heartaches within it
Then sit on the box and laugh.

Grandpa Paul.

I never knew Grandpa Paul. He died before I started going out with my wife. But we can see we are dealing with an older generation – men involved in World War One who had such awful memories that putting them in the box and hiding them was all they thought they could or should do.

The poem, I believe, was written by Bertha Adams Backus in 1931. The bit that doesn’t scan well is a mistake by Grandpa. There is a verse two to go with it.

“Tell no one else of its contents,
Never its secrets share;
When you’ve dropped in your care and worry
Keep them forever there;
Hide them from sight so completely
That the world will never dream half;
Fasten the strong box securely
Then sit on the lid and laugh.”

How lovely to have this example of the way Grandpa thought; the advice he handed down to his young granddaughter.


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