From Dad I know my grandfather Chalk was pale, short, heavily / muscled, with forearms big as hams (fists like sledgehammers): / a man I did not know, for we met when I was an infant.
I know that he was a smithy, a mechanic, a wildcat oil driller / and a businessman. His wife Iva Pearl Shattuck was a grammarian / and school teacher. During the Great Depression they paid off / company debts rather than declare bankruptcy. Chalk scrambled / for money. He resurrected an old still of crafting fine Irish- / style lace or tattering to bring in money for food to feed his / family. What he and Iva did was a sort of fine lace: they / knitted together essentials and kept their family whole.
Hard times return and pain collects. During our Great Recession / I’ve watched as a first snowfall knit together branches of / deciduous trees into natural finery and a semblance of lace.
I put aside most of what I know of Chalk, all but an image of / him with battered hands and gnarled fingers weaving fine lace / for Iva, Claire, Bonnie, Ruth and her twin brother Richard / (who would become my father). Now, these people – and my mother / Sally Kirkpatrick – are all dead; I am the last McBride of my / line. I carry my grandmother’s maiden name with pride. As I / work on what has become essential, I keep this fine thing – / this work of love – before me in gratitude and as example.
Dedicated to the memory of Leslie Otho “Chalk” McBride (1892 to 1968) and Iva Pearl Shattuck McBride (1894 to 1977)