Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Elizabeth, a Little Orphan Train Rider

I named this little mousie after my Grandmother.  She and her brother Frank were orphan train children sent from New York out to the Midwest farming communities. She was adopted first and her brother Frank was adopted 50 miles later.  My Grandmother never knew his whereabouts and often wondered what had happened to him. Many of the orphan train children were little more than child labor used to work the farms and do housekeeping. Some were lucky and were adopted into loving families. I believe my Grandmother was one of the lucky ones. Grandma' Elizabeth passed away when I was five.  I'll always remember her thick German accent and her wonderful windmill cookies. She  also had a fondness for African violets. Another thing I remember is her fear of being sent to the poor house.  As a kid growing up in the '60's, I had no idea that the poor houses were real. And that by being poor, your children could be taken away from you and sent to work.  Or that like my great Uncle Frank you could be sent to the juvenile authorities for the simple act of trying to sell newspapers on the street. There are people in this country that believe they'd like to go back to the good old days with little or no constraints on business and no public assistance programs. I only pray they do not get their way.  Someone who had seen my work on eBay recently sent me this poem:

Star Fish Poem

As I walked along the seashore
This young boy greated me.
He was tossing stranded starfish
Back to the deep blue sea.
I said, "Tell me why you bother,
Why you waste your time this way.
There's a million stranded starfish
Does it matter, anyway?"

And he said, "It matters to this one.
It deserves a chance to grow.
It matters to this one.
I can't save them all I know.
But it matters to this one,
I'll return it to the sea.
It matters to this one,
And it matters to me.


Hilde said... [Reply]

How lovely to commemorate your grandmother in such a way!

Morena Ciambra Dreamartdolls said... [Reply]

My grandmother was also an orphan in Italy. She too had loving parents and she was always grateful for that. The little poem made me cry. I find myself taking in stray injured cats from time to time. It does matter. Your work is always magnificent and it shows your gentle spirit. We are so lucky to have you among us. Hugs, Morena

The Old Maid said... [Reply]

She is beautiful! So pretty!

Melli´s Hobby said... [Reply]

I love it. Is´s so pretty.

Brenda said... [Reply]

She is a treasure, Robin. You grandmother would be so pleased with your work.



Sharon said... [Reply]

She is precious. Your grandmother would be very proud and the poem is wonderful too. It is always worth helping things if we can, and it does make a difference, always. Xxx

Jeanie said... [Reply]

Beautiful poem!

BiWuBär said... [Reply]

Thank you very much - for transferring a wonderful family story into a lovely critter of yours and for this beautiful poem.


Robin Andreae said... [Reply]

Thanks everyone for the nice comments. It's so nice to hear from all of you.

Jane said... [Reply]

I love it, Robin. Is this one for sale? If not, would you consider making another one that I could purchase? I love researching all about our grandma Elizabeth on the Orphan Train, and Julianna is middle named after her. Would love to hear more stories about her! I was 3 when she died, but I remember celebrating my birthdays with her...we shared the same day, Oct. 1...and I always felt a special kinship with her, since we were both adopted. - Janie

Robin Andreae said... [Reply]

Hi Janie, She's on eBay now. But I'd be happy to make one for you :-). I'll always remember hiding under her kitchen table when the flying monkeys came on during "The Wizard of OZ". She used to give us kids coffee with loads of cream and sugar. I always had my birthdays with her, too. She baked the best cakes! That's so neat you shared the same birthday! The thing I loved the most were her big hugs.

Helen Priem said... [Reply]

Beautiful little Elizabeth, impressive story,the poem is a treasure to keep in your heart and mind. To me it says it all.

People who want to go back to the "good old days " are afraid of change and probably never lived in those days.

Robin Andreae said... [Reply]

That's so true, Helen.

Donna said... [Reply]

What a beautiful poem!!! Your Grandmother would be so touched that you remember her in the best way possible--your art!!!

Kikka said... [Reply]

The story about your Grandmother is very also told something about your Uncle, have you found out what happened to him?

I Love the Mouse, it is so adorable! your work always :)

Robin Andreae said... [Reply]

Hi Kikka. He was my great-uncle,my Grandmother's brother. All I know is that he lived about 50 miles away from my Grandmother and had stayed in that area.