She chose the step not taken.

Philosophy and Nonsense      
(Thoughts about writing, education, and experience.)                                    Presented by Forrest D. Poston

The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.
Think, I dare you.

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And that has made all the difference.

Sadie on the Bridge     by Forrest D. Poston

Herman left Sadie in a West Virginia coal camp with three small children and another coming.  Life for Sadie had gone from difficult towards unbearable.  In the 1920s, she had none of the options we might fall back on today long enough to get by, and coal camps were never populated by those with a lot to give, though some still found ways to help. 

Only Herman’s lack of math skills took a little of the edge off the harshness and slowed the decline toward starvation.  When company scrip was given out on payday, the man in charge shorted Herman and held back some food money for Sadie and the kids.  This covert child support was a generous act but not enough.

Sadie struggled and searched for ways to keep her family together and alive, but solutions eluded her.  Her last hope finding a way to reach Charleston and seek help from agencies there.  She got to Charleston but found no help.  With her last hope a bitter failure, Sadie decided that the only thing to do was take the children for a walk onto a bridge.  It seemed a simple task now, the only answer she could see.  She would push the two older children over and take the baby over with her last step.

Before and after this moment some would have called Sadie and much of her line flaky, and rightly so in many ways.  A generation or so earlier, many would have said fey.  Perhaps that has something to do with what happened next, with whatever actually happened on that bridge one step from embracing despair.  According to Sadie, an angel appeared and told her not to take that step.  The angel made no promises, but Sadie took the children home and hung on.

Eventually, George, another miner who had for some time tipped his hat and said hello on his regular trips past the house decided to tip his hat, say hello, and stop by.  After that, Sadie and George had a till death do us part marriage that over time included a combined “yours, mine, and ours” family of 15 children.  They were still in the coal camp, and life was by no means easy, but it was better.  It could be endured without another trip to the bridge.

No one knows if Sadie saw an angel.  Hunger can certainly affect the mind, or perhaps her subconscious managed to project the one image strong enough to overcome her desperation.  Perhaps a simple glint of light grew with each telling of the story until the angel was born, or perhaps we can only say that the world is full of things we can’t know.  Sometimes we have to be happy with the outcome even if we don't understand how it happened. 

The ripples from that step not taken have widened through 4 generations now.  Perhaps none of these people have kept the Bailey Savings and Loan from going under or any other acts on the scale of “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but that moment means everything to some of us, and however it happened we're glad that it did.  One of the three children who walked back home from that bridge was my father.

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Writing and Education

Autobiography Challenge

Considering Conclusions

Considering Introductions

Four Meanings of Life

Godot and the Great Pumpkin

A Major is More Minor Than
You Think

The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)

Thoughts About Picking a Major

Quick Points About Education

Quick Points About Writing

Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching

Revising Revision

Reviving Experience

Reviving Symbolism

Using an Audience


What Makes a Story True?

What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)

Why Write?

Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)

Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma

Links to Other Sites

Other Essays and Poetry

Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume

Alec Kirby, Memories of an Earnest Imp
Being Like Children

Beyond the Genes (Dad)

The Blessing and the Blues

Bookin' Down Brown Street

The Cat With a Bucket List

David and the Revelation

The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)

Getting a Clue

Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone

The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices

The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake

Roto, Rooter and the Drainy Day

Sadie on the Bridge

Trumpet Player, USDA Approved



Selected Poems

The Poetry Process

Links to Other Sites