Licking County has had its share of poets over the years.
Licking County has had its share of poets over the years. Whether through God-gifted talent of the wise and comforting Psalms of King David or the decadent machinations of poet Ezra Pound, each of us at some point in our lives has attempted to compose poetry. After all, it is not only the elixir for the broken soul; its art form is to literature what ballet is to dance.
Historian W. Thomas Huff, compiler and author of Memories of Old Newark, introduced readers to several poets of Licking County. For example, in 1909, an elderly man composed "An Old Newark Swimmin' Hole" when he observed boys "skinny dippin'." Poetess Janice McMullen of St. Louisville (date unknown) gave us a poem called "Darwin Was Wrong -- three monkeys sat in a coconut tree." One can imagine the rest.
Then there's the lengthy near-epic poem written by poetess Elizabeth King, called "Famous Firsts of Newark," written for the 85th birthday party of the First National Bank on Feb. 3, 1950. Another poem brought the reader considerable laughter. It was co-authored by Daisy and Dewey Hayes of Newark and called "Who Will Take Grandma?"
Poet/photographer/historian Chalmers Pancoast wrote "Here Comes Ben!" about his friend Ben Sanders. He also wrote a patriotic piece called "Tribute to Old Glory." In 1996, Pancoast wrote a clever limerick to honor "Granville Bill" (fellow historian Bill Davis, an 82-year-old retired history teacher). Davis had co-founded the history club, "Katzenjammer Kids," of which Chalmers was a member. Davis frequently asked for an opportunity to lecture on limericks, to which Chalmers replied, "If they're clean."
Davis would respond, "If they're clean, they're no good."
From one poet to the others of Licking County, I am humbled to see my poem, "The Center Piece," about the county courthouse featured at the front of the book, A Bicentennial History of Licking County, Ohio, 1808-2008. I believe it is America's most elegant county courthouse.
James P. Lukens is a member of the Licking County Historical Society. To share early Licking County stories that are not well-known, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.