Sunday, October 14, 2012

Old Bruneau by George E. Steunenberg

The following comes from among some papers and letters of my mother's. Her mother, my grandmother, Frances Beardsley Wood Steunenberg, apparently transcribed this verse written by Major George Steunenberg after it had appeared in the Idaho Statesman. The transcription is not dated, but I am guessing the poem appeared at a later date in the Statesman, perhaps circa 1930's-40's, and grandma Frances copied it sometime during that period. Maybe the Statesman or someone else has a copy of the original article so we could pinpoint the publication date.

If George's reference to 46 years is his age at the time, that would date his having written the original approximately 1916.

There are additional notations from my grandmother Frances and my mother Brenda on the back (below) indicating my grandfather Julian always kept a copy of this poem—but I am not sure if the reference is to this transcribed version or perhaps a clipping of the one published in the Statesman. I do have another transcribed typed version put together by my Crookam kin at a later date (1994). There are some very slight grammatical and punctuation differences but both versions are essentially the same.

Old Bruneau by George E. Steunenberg
Courtesy of DB's Travel
A picture of Bruneau Valley;
    I hold it to gaze and gaze!
That winding river, those same old hills
     That I knew in my younger days.

Just 46 years in the distance.
    I've girdled the globe since then.
But I never forgot that darling old spot,
     And I long to see it again!

Bruneau Past
Old Bruneau was simple and rustic;
      And hardly a slave to the law,
With its chattering hoofs, and jovial men
    Who swallowed their whiskey raw.

Oh I long for that old time freedom!
    The smell of the sage in the air!
But I'll never go back to old Brueneau,
    Because it just ain't there.

Yes, I know the maps all show it.
    The highway is smooth and fast.
But never an engineer has built
    A road back to the past.

You may follow the maps till doomsday,
    But the places are new and strange.
And the Bruneau of forty-six years ago
    Is ever beyond the range!
Bruneau Past
I know there's a gasoline station
    Replacing the hitching rail.
There's a dirty garage that stinks of grease
    Beside that winding trail.

And instead of the campfire chorus,
    And the songs that we used to know,
Some Hollywood crooner is whining away
    On a hell-born radio.
Bruneau Past
 Yes, I know it's the march of progress.
    I now that is has to be.
But Bruneau Valley and auto gas -
    They just don't sit right with me.

So I will cling to my old time picture -
    I may be old-fashioned and slow-
But I'd rather remember old Bruneau
    As it was in the long ago.

Editorial note: The Statesman (Idaho) is indebted to Major Steunenberg for this delightful bit of verse, to which many pioneers of the district will say "Amen."

Owyhee County, IdahoGenWeb Project

Settlers Surge into Bruneau Valley, Stock Thieves Then and Now [otd 10/24]

Bruneau, Owyhee County, Idaho

Ranching and mining in the Bruneau Country

No comments: