I would never trade growing up in Elwood, Indiana for any place else in the world because I got to know some of the most wonderful folks.
Our neighbors were bonus uncles and aunts, always keeping an eye on the children of other parents. It’s just how things worked. We had an innate sense of security no matter where we were playing.
A half a block away on Main Street was a wide gap in property between the LaPierre and Poynter houses, each filled with children. I assume that at one time there had been a house situated in this optimal kickball and whiffle ball spot. No former foundation interrupted our “play property.”
Harry and Irene Poynter were the parents of the Poynter Sisters. There were five Poynter daughters, Cindy, Pam, Jenny, Julie, and Debbie. Debbie and I entered kindergarten in 1970 just as her oldest sister was graduating from Elwood’s Wendell L. Willkie High School. When our 1983 class graduated the Poynter grandchildren were already filling up the next chapter of Mr. & Mrs. Poynter’s lives.
From high on the porch to the west of the play property usually stood Mr. Harry Poynter on his huge front porch with lower stone walls and columns painted white. We could always count on Mr. Poynter to step in as the official umpire or referee should we not agree on the play in question. Sometimes, Mr. Poynter, bald for as long as I knew him, looked stern. However, his seeming sternness was always betrayed by kind eyes and a gentle voice. Had I been the father of five beautiful daughters, knowing young men would be calling at the house, I would have looked stern.
Mrs. Poynter was usually seated on their porch or ready to serve popsicles, water, or even run a neighbor kid inside to clean and attend to a scraped knee or slight injury. I don’t believe I ever heard her voice raised much above calling one of her daughters or letting one of us neighbor kids know she could hear our mothers calling us by the pre-cell phone method of opening the door and yelling the child’s name.
The Poynters and many other neighbors were the foundation of an idyllic childhood in Elwood, Indiana. Our little piece of the universe was blessed. Harry and Irene Poynter were a major chunk of that blessing.
These two kind souls separated the past 37 years, are now reunited.
Mrs. Poynter gained her angel wings. It seems odd to say “she gained her angel wings” because this lady was undoubtedly always a true angel. They both were.
A number of my classmates, like myself, have bid farewell to one parent, or both of our parents. We’re at that age, now. As these parents go to their eternal rest, I can still hear the cheers of us kids, our laughter, our voices at play around the neighborhood as each of our parents kept a neighborly eye on the shifting play zones. But, always, there will be Harry and Irene Poynter on their front porch as we filled our huge play property with tons of fun.
Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Poynter… Know you are appreciated and know you are loved…