The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
An Emerging Imagination

So, you never can tell what will happen
when you learn to play the harmonica.

—Robert McCloskey, Lentil

Even with the threat of attack “by the Germans from one direction or the Japanese from the other,” Teddy and his sister grew up feeling safe. They looked forward to coming home from school to the scent of molasses cookies baking in the oven. If their parents argued, it was away from the children. They were, Kooser writes, “very formal; there wasn’t a whole lot of physical affection in our house. Everybody understood we all loved each other but there was not a lot of hugging.”

Vera Kooser was a supportive mother. “I could do no wrong— She was always on my side,” her son says. Judith describes their mother as more formal than her father. Teddy and their mother were “soul-mates,” she says, as she and her father were. Homemaking, informed by the Depression and then by rationing during the war, was for Vera Kooser both a skill and an art. “Mother’s the type of woman,” Kooser wrote many years later in a tribute, “who patched torn clothes and darned socks and made do… Like many Midwestern women of her generation she thrived on doing without.”

-8-

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