By Gerald Hausman
Santa Fe, NM, USA

Some people lend a helping hand.

I knew Fred Rogers, first of all, as the leading member of a Board of Directors for the publishing company where I worked as a printing salesman, bookseller, editor, and ghostwriter.
Gerald Hausman

One day, inspired by a recent visit from Fred, I wrote a poem entitled “Anyone Can Be A Poet”. It was the sort of sentiment I thought Fred would like, praising the mindfulness of the spoken word in the mouths of individuals who never once dreamed of writing a poem, but in a certain sense, lived them every day and spoke them.

Fred was himself, an everyday, anyone poet, who said things that needed to be remembered by others. I guess it’s best to say that such poets are oral ones. They don’t require the written word to make their message any truer or more honestly real.

Anyway Fred loved that poem and told me so. And he encouraged me to keep writing off-the-cuff in that same way. So I did. And I still do, thanks to Fred.

Eagle Boy by Gerald Hausman

Years later when Harper Collins published my children’s book Eagle Boy, I sent it to Fred and he phoned me immediately and said the book was charming and he loved the message about the little boy floating down to earth with bumblebees under his moccasins. When he touches the earth, his mother is waiting for him, and the story ends there with the boy becoming, many years later, a great medicine man.

Eagle Boy 
Fred said, “I praise you for writing this story and doing it well, but even more so for the effort of wanting to write it in the first place.”

He pointed out that the same desire, that wanting to express something inexpressible, was in the boy as well.

“Do you remember the juniper trees?” Fred asked.

I hesitated for a moment. “Which ones?”

“I am thinking of the ones you put over your upstairs windows in the house you built in Tesuque, New Mexico. You could have just hung curtains. Instead you cut beautiful juniper boughs to shade you from the sun.”

“Is that a story I should write?” I asked.

“If you wish to do so. Remember, anyone can be a poet,” he said.

Then he changed the subject. “Well,” he said, “how is that pond of yours?”

I said, “I swim in it every day.”

Fred chuckled. “I must come and join you. Soon.”

A few months later he was gone and though we had gone swimming together in Pittsburgh, I knew we would never do laps in the little pond next to our house. He had said, “One day we will do that long swim together.”

I had remarked, “With bumblebees under our feet.”

Now, all these years later, when I look at the long row of children’s books in our bedroom, I realize that Fred blessed every one of them with bumblebee pollen.

(Gerald Hausman photo credit: Mariah Fox)
(Header and Eagle Boy artwork credit: Barry and Cara Moser)

Gerald Hausman
Gerald Hausman at Stay Thirsty Publishing


Gerald Hausman is the author of Not Since Mark Twain - Stories and a regular contributor to Stay Thirsty Magazine.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.