Friday, April 1, 2011

My Grandmother at Age 17













My beloved grandmother, Mescal Elizabeth Toms Hornbeck, died on January 19 at the age of 99. I have spent that past week (my spring break) at her house in Woodstock, New York, taking stock of the estate -- going through books, photographing the furnishings, and thinking about the disposal of her belongings. She had a lot of them, but she also has a lot of kids (4) and grandkids (7) and even great-grandchildren (2). Among the books I discovered her 1928 senior class high school yearbook, the Maroon, from Kingston High School (New York). Here's what the text says:

Mescal B. Toms [this is a typo, her middle initial was E.]
11 Lucas Avenue
Prospect: Elmira College.
Career: A.A., 1, 2, 3, 4; Interclass athletics, 1, 2, 3, 4; Captain hockey, 1; Captain baseball, 1; Prisma, 3, 4; President Prisma, 4; Hi-Y Auxiliary, 4; Mary Lyon, 4; Varsity debating team, 4; Bankers' Council, 2; Literary Editor MAROON.

Do you remember the Heritage of the Desert, in which Mescal plays so prominent a part? It wasn't our Mescal, but we are sure that she could have played the part to perfection. Both she and Bebe are dark, vivacious , and full of fun. Mescal acts well the part of an efficient executive too, for under her administration Prisma has enjoyed one of the most prosperous years since its organization.

Also printed in her senior class yearbook was this poem she wrote:

A Hermit

“For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,

His few books or his beads, or maple dish,

Or do his gray hairs any violence.”

–- Milton


A hermit sits in meditative bliss,

His thoughts removed from common things like this.

His mind is on the infinite

And spurns the signs of human fellowship.

His books, his beads, his weeds, and maple dish,

The only tokens of his lost kinship

With us, his fellow mortals here below.

But scorn him not! With noble strength and aim

He left this world of sordid sin and gain

To seek for wisdom and for Wisdom’s Source.

--Mescal E. Toms


1 comment:

A Ellis said...

Beth that is a lovely post. And I see you clearly in her high school photo. xx