Monday, February 13, 2017

shirley kohl's poem & story-stirring at the muhlenberg community library.

last monday, shirley kohl of muhlenberg township, born in 1930, kindly made herself available to be the special guest for a poetry reading in her own town's library, through this project. for her age, she's a very busy woman, volunteering at her church to prepare meals for those in need, and she also sometimes runs an exercise class for seniors, on top of now taking care of a fish which her grandson gave her as a recent gift. i'm sure she does a lot more than this, but these are samplings of just some of what she does, which initially meant it took a while to schedule a reading because her schedule is so full. but she admits that she knows that is good for someone her age.

tara ring, the senior library assistant and public relations coordinator helped to coordinate this reading featuring shirley at the muhlenberg community library. and heather moore who handles adult programming at the library assisted with photography, so all eye-scenes below are by her.

with a smaller audience at this poetry reading, plenty of thoughtful questions were aimed toward shirley, including ones like was it warm enough in the mills and factories in winter with the heating offered for workers; if she was a part of a union, what was like that, and how did it pan out later; what hours did she work when she had jobs, in consideration of how much time she spent with her kids as a young mother; and even a robbery of supplies came up as a discussion point to one inquiry or another.

below are heather moore's photographs of the poetry reading, followed by a long excerpt from shirley's poem in volume two from this project.


just for a few months between herbert’s welding jobs, i took
a gig at diener’s underwear mill in leesport. white gloves to fit
women’s hands were something i made at another place too
long ago and briefly for my fingertips to remember where. we
moved to tioga county to care for a herd of jersey cows, but
after that farmer’s wife died, things fell apart. we came back
home. before we left berks county, i’d worked at temple

apparel, inc. at first, herbert and i rented an apartment near
route 625, so sadie remp gave me a ride to our daylight hours
of constructing blouses in 1965. i did anything, everything.
but most of the time, i set sleeves, the collars already in place.
prepping the middles down, button holers and button setters
did their part with the front openings of the finished fabric,
which might have been pre-cut upon arrival. once we bought

our house, i could walk to work, 7/10 of a mile. on tuesdays
after our shift, sadie and i hit the smooth spill of highways
to explore the eatery scenes. at some restaurant on lancaster
avenue, one waitress would see us pull in, set down our drinks
on the table before we stepped foot in the front door—coffee
for sadie, a coke or pepsi for me. our blouse-making ended
by 1986. in not long, i had a job at t.g. faust, inc. in reading,

sewing together the kevlar-thick maps of bulletproof vests
for police officers, their trained dogs, the military. we worked
out of a barn where the horses for the city’s trolley were kept
in departed days; some of the names of the horses still stayed
in paint up on the walls there for a while—dick and sue were

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for coming out to share your work with our patrons!