Close to Home

By Pamela Buresh

It took me by surprise recently when Marcie Klomp contacted me about writing a column for the Herald. In preparing the “Going Back in the Herald” features each week, she’d read the “Lime Springs Profile” columns I’d written 25 years ago for Carl Cassidy. That had her thinking my writing now might contribute to preparations for the Lime Springs sesquicentennial in 2018 and the new history book that will be written for the event. I am happy to do it. I love Lime Springs. I loved growing up there. Although I haven’t been “home” since my brother Fred and I buried our father, Dr. Abner Buresh, in July of 2008, my heart is still very much there and I think so often of “the dear hearts and gentle people who live and love in my hometown.” They are the ones I love to remember and about whom I now look forward to writing.

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Alice Bancroft wrote the “Lime Springs Profile” column for more than 25 years. Around 1931, a combination of her love for writing and her love for Lime Springs led the very young author to approach an equally young editor Carl Cassidy about the possibility of penning a weekly column for his newspaper. “Under the Co-Co” was born – a collection of human interest stories, jokes and observations after the style of Harlan Miller’s popular “Over the Coffee” which appeared in The Des Moines Register. It was, perhaps, the timidity of a fledgling author that stopped Alice from using her name on the column. Rather, she used “M.N.X” and continued composing anonymously for several years until her identity was revealed. She wrote the column until the early 1940’s when she moved to Minneapolis, then Des Moines and eventually Lansing, Mich., honing her style in radio and newspapers. Preparations for the Lime Springs High School alumni homecoming programs in 1960 marked the reappearance of Alice’s byline in the Herald.

Her articles which were written with the intent to create interest in the upcoming celebration, evolved into “Lime Springs Profile” which she continued to write until her death in the late summer of 1987. She wrote each week with a blend of human interest, warmth and good humor. I interviewed Alice in June of that year for a profile I did on her for the Herald. At 80, she was youthful, full of life and boundless energy. She’d moved back to her beloved hometown just a year before and looked forward to participating in and contributing to the life of the community.

There was certainly no room for boredom in her life. “Bored people are boring,” she said matter-of-factly.

Like the rest of Lime Springs, I was stunned to hear of her death. I happened to be visiting my dad when he got a call from Alice’s son who, on his way from out-of-town to visit his mother, arrived to find her unresponsive. She, of course, was gone and my dad did what he was too often called to do: sign the death certificate of a friend.

Carl called me several weeks after Alice’s death and asked if I’d be interested in continuing her column. “Big shoes to fill,” I thought. I learned quickly that those shoes could never be filled. There was a freedom in that and, rather, I sought inspiration from her writing and her friendship and was off on my own.

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I’ve done enough writing now to know that always underestimated is the determination it takes to sit yourself down at the computer — or typewriter in 1987 — and just write. All of a sudden, tasks like vacuuming, loading the dishwasher and doing laundry sound appealing! I’ll check my e-mails, return phone calls, pay bills, make dreaded doctor’s appointments — anything to avoid the inevitable. Ernest Hemingway said it well: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic perhaps, but writers do pour out their hearts and minds and that’s neither easy nor fun. But it is rewarding in myriad ways.

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I’ve asked Marcie to call my new column “Close to Home.” I’m mindful, both as I entitle and write it that, as the Tom Wolf penned, “You can’t go home again.” The main character of his 1940 novel by that name comes to the realization that comes to the realization that “. . . you can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood . . . back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame . . . back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems which seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

On its face that seems sad and depressing. But it needn’t be. Though, of course, it’s always physically impossible to return to times past, reminiscing, as long as it’s done with one foot planted firmly in the present, can take us there and can be, in the process, therapeutic, satisfying, even joyful. It’s these trips down memory lane that I want to be at the heart of my column and it’s my desire that I can bring to it some of the same enthusiasm, warm heartedness, charm and contribution to community that were so characteristic of Alice’s writing.

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p.s. For those of you who are interested, “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain is a terrific read. It’s a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage and their years together in Paris.

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2 Responses

  1. Love your column, Pam. I’m looking forward to following it.

  2. Thank you for the heads up to your column. It is very interesting. Alice Bancroft was a “cousin” of Dad’s. Dadl’s folks, moved to Lime Springs to raise their family of five children. Welsh was spoken in the home as Grandma Mary had grown up in Wales.
    Our family moved to Dad’s home place after WWII, so I only lived in Lime Springs for nine years. Dad, Mom, Jane, and Janet moved away in 1955, but the folks returned their to retire. Bill and I often visit during Corn Days. Sister Jane and John often drive up from Texas to join us. Jack and Julie (TN) and Janet and Bob (FL) have attended once.

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