We’re in this together

November 25, 1986

“Will’s Choice ! !?
(A Birthday Tribute to Mary Jean (Scott) Sawyer)

1.They are special – WILL and ABI(e) Owens!
They strengthened their children to keep going.
JESSIE MAE! CATHERINE! And BROOKSIE, too ! –
Labored unselfishly as only true parents can do.

2.In 1949, Will Owens “extended? his arms
So that his three daughters could strengthen their homes.
Jessie Mae had five babies; Catherine had three;
It was Brooksie’s second child, named MARY.

3The daughters of Will Owens worked faithfully,
Earning “debtor’s pay? from people who acted hatefully.
But the quiet, unyielding patience that Will Owens showed
Eased the hurt that white bigots sowed.  

4.Will’s daughters knew HOW TO PERSEVERE,
Because Will Owens had taught them to be faithful and sincere.
The Owens women were excellent maids;
Still, white folks were vicious and stingily did pay

5.Only what the white folks “pinched? and “shoved?
And ten dollars per week cleared their conscience of
The pitiful longing in the Negroes’ eyes,
As Negroes watched white people “shuck and Jive?.

6.Will Owens’ face was SET LIKE A FLINT!
When he kept his grandchildren, white folks were convinced
That Will Owens wasn’t “nobody’s? fool.
So his three daughters kept their cool.

7.Of those grandchildren from his loins,
Will taught them what it meant to be an OWENS.
“In those days,? Will’s grandchildren called him “Papa?
Because his own children honored him “properly?.

8.“PAPA? didn’t talk much and seldom did he smile.
Yet, he taught his children to refrain from guile.
What “Papa? said was “the law?,
And didn’t “none? of his children give him “the jaw?.

9.FLORENCE!! – married first, and 1933 was her first time
To “extend? Papa’s heritage through “the Griffin line?.
JESSIE MAE ??!! – MADE 1942 Papa’s second year
To show that the “Taltons? are bold and austere.

10.In 1944, FAYE MARIE’s first child was born
And the “McCoys? too, became a part of the Owens.
CATHERINE Owens was shy, but a daring “Roberts? man
Quietly wooed her until he won her hand.

11.April “soared? yet again for the “McCoys? in 1947,
But June 1947 was for CONRAD Owens’ first “happening?!
The first OWENS male from Papa’s sons !! –
A child with a great destiny to run.

12.BAMMER Owens was to be Papa’s special tribute
To the mother of his wife, Abie; 1951 was an honor none could dispute!
BAMMER Owens became a “Hendricks? with great prospects.
Sometimes, however, the younger children cause great defects.

13.Papa’s loins were fruitful still.
JAMES TAYLOR !! – (J.T.) – brought honor to the name of WILL.
In 1954, the OWENS name would continue.
In “J.T.?, there were 21 years of strength and momentum –

14.To carry forth the name of WILL OWENS.
God Himself “hallowed? the firstborn.
Only three of Papa’s daughters were favoured
To receive his wisdom and strength and unselfish labor.

15.JESSIE MAE left her two: Gertie and Joe,
And Papa’s vigil helped to open a strong door.
CATHERINE Owens had Lorene and Florene, the 1-year old twins,
And then, there was also CATHERINE’s 2-year old, “A-Lean?.

16.BROOKSIE left only one, a symbol in itself !! –
Her daughter, MARY JEAN SCOTT!! Papa’s solace before his 1949 death.
For it was that same 1949 year,
As Papa’s death drew near,

17.That he strengthened his grandchildren with wisdom,
Compelling even 2-year olds to accept derision.
Papa refused to let two-year olds be “feeble?,
Not even when vicious children attacked repeatedly.

18.To see if Papa could be bullied.
That wise old man NEVER acted cruelly.
A-Lean put a handful of dirt in Gertie’s oatmeal.
Papa, then, lived up to his name, WILL !!

19.Papa COULD NOT !! defend his granddaughter’s honor.
Gertie had to learn how to become a bold overcomer.
A timid and bruised 2-year old looked to Papa for support,
As Gertie turned to face her grandfather, who would not invoke

20.Any pity or sympathy or chastisement at what he saw.
That only caused A-Lean to continue to scoff
And to abuse her cousin, Gertie, so much the more.
But Papa KNEW that Gertie needed to “grow?.

21.“Make haste!? Papa commanded austerely.
Papa taught his grandchildren sincerely.
He had the wisdom to KNOW WHEN to push,
Even for 2-year olds who were “slow-of-foot?.

22.Since MARY JEAN was the oldest in the nursery “lot?,
Papa wanted her to be “tops?!!
Papa had asked the 2-year old MARY JEAN to run an errand,
But MARY JEAN moved slowly to do his command.

23.MARY JEAN walked slowly to do what Papa had asked;
But Papa saw that the 2-year old was lax
In obeying a command from an adult.
Papa’s grandchildren must be obedient, yet, rugged and tough.

24.As Papa’s wooden cane struck the bony child,
He offered no sympathy when MARY JEAN started to cry.
Maybe Papa could “foresee? the coming day
When many children would go astray.

25.Papa’s household had to be an example,
IN THOSE DAYS when people cheat and trample –
An example of those who would live upright and true.
Perhaps that is why Papa kept us when we were two.

26.Papa taught us well, before September 5, 1949.
He made us be strong and wise of mind.
The “anchor? that Papa chose to carry on his name
Is the one who did not aspire to riches and fame.

27.IN THOSE DAYS, student could start ‘FIRST GRADE’ at 5 years.
But there was great opposition to the family of WILL.
“We fight against principalities,? the Bible says.
Sometimes great obstacles are placed in our way.

28.So what if 2 FULL years did pass
While bigoted teachers “held? MARY JEAN in the same grade class!!
Bigots are sometimes God’s measuring rod
To help strengthen a child for sufferings that are hard.

29.WILL OWENS’ name refused to die,
Even when the white hypocrites built the school named Eastside High.
Even “foreign? teachers like Felix Harris
Did not seem to want Papa’s name to last.

30.Teachers ignored and ignored intelligent minds
Of students who descended from Papa’s bloodline.
But God Himself got tired of that “stuff?,
And God let the “teaching bigots? know that God had had enough!!

31.When God decides to pull out all stops,
There’s no telling whose “boat? will get rocked!
“It’s no contest !!? the Eastside High School teachers thought,
Because Alice Adams’ prestige had been “bought?

32.By her father’s principal-ship and her mother’s arrogance.
Didn’t “nobody? have “them? kind of parents!!??
But the name, MARY, means a lot.
STILL!! Alice Adams’ last name guaranteed her a “sure? spot.

33.But names must be able to give a person strength.
MARY JEAN SCOTT is not a wimp.
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them . . . !!?
St. Matthew 2:19 gives a good picture of MARY JEAN.

34.Papa’s foresight reinforced his own daughter’s choice,
When BROOKSIE, called her daughter, MARY JEAN SCOTT/
Papa’s family are “doers? of The Word.
St. John 2:3 lets BROOKSIE’s wisdom be heard.

35.“MISS EASTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL 1965 !!?
When the students chose MARY JEAN, that wasn’t “no? jive.
The qualities of meekness, of character, and of beauty
Were entrusted to WILL OWENS’ children who learn to do double duty.

36.And MARY JEAN alone had the wisdom
Of knowing HOW, WHEN, and WHERE to do Papa’s biddings.
Had Papa not struck MARY JEAN with his walking cane,
Papa could have lost the honor of his name.

37.“My family is poor in Manasseh and I am the least!?
Judges 6:12 lets us know that God does as He so “please?.
MARY JEAN, you would call out your father’s name so very “proud?;
“John Willie Scott?!! You cried aloud.

38.It’s as though you are the Jephthah of WILL OWENS.
Sometimes quiet people keep a family going.
To me, you are a true friend,
Because you stayed with me through “thick and thin?.

39.You did not let a college degree separate us,
And that gave me the stamina to accept God’s trust,
When others snubbed me and treated me “bad?.
YOU ARE THE CLOSEST FRIEND THAT I HAVE EVER HAD.

40.It didn’t matter that I moved.
Those long miles only helped to prove
That true friendship understands all.
That’s why I refuse to take a fall.

41.There are birthday cards that I treasure still.
MARY JEAN, you are a GREAT example of “our? grandfather, WILL.
The flora bouquet that you “wired? to me
Gave me added strength and great dignity.

42.Most often, though, it seems that I forget
That November 22nd did set
The standard for all of WILL OWENS’ “house?.
That is why God has given you an excellent spouse.

43.WILLIE B. SAWYER !! – and you thought that God had forgot??!!
Being patient is what life is all about.
So there is Erica!! And still, there is Amelia!! For you, God’s own gifts –
Because MARY JEAN refused to “dip? –

44.“Dip? below the requirements that WILL OWENS had set.
Being meek and quiet can sometimes make quiet people fret.
“A meek and a quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.?
First Peter 3:4 can strengthen a man’s “house?.

45.Your patience, your friendship and your trust
Have encouraged me TO ENDURE loneliness when I must.
MARY JEAN, sometimes, “promotions in God are slow,
But only because God wants us to grow.

46.“Promotions come from God!?
Therefore, some people get off to a slow start.
MARY JEAN, you are strength FOR ME, because you endure.
“Thank You !!? for being humble and pure.

Gertie M. Talton

1st Re-Issued: October 21, 1994
2nd Re-Issued: August 17, 2010