Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Erwin A. Thompson featured on WTTW Chicago Network “River Stories”

A few years back Pop was named folk treasure by Arts Across Illinois. In school assemblies he performed music, told stories, and pulled the kids down to perform in skits based on his songs.

Once on a visit home Pop and I played our fiddles in a performance in a school gymnasiam while mother led the yelping and barking during "Rattler," one of our favorite family songs. After the assembly, Pop stood by the edge of the bleachers and reached out to hug armfuls of children as they passed back to their classes.

WTTW Chicago Network came downstate to our house and included Pop in a 7-minute clip on one of their TV programs. My sister Julia was still alive then and invited the two-person crew to stay overnight and have pancakes with the family in the morning.

We later were able to get copies of these hours of bonus taping as a result of the hospitality my sister extended. It's wonderful to see the hours of family culture show-and-tell: quilts, music, poetry, paintings, and stories, always stories.

Now there's a River Stories website and Pop is featured there. Here's what they say:

"From his home in the hills above the Mississippi River, Erwin A. Thompson has heard the waters pass. And he listens closely whenever they carry a song, storing it in his memory to share with the next generation.

For more than 90 years, the work of this poet, novelist, fiddler and square dance caller has captured life with a perspective that is rich with human warmth. Whether he's writing love poems to his wife from the battlefields of World War II Europe, chronicling his adventures working for Union Electric, or coming up with songs for the Calhoun County Antique Quilt and Car Show, Thompson shows us the quiet and simple pleasures of living.

His poems, songs and stories provide deep links to the past while telling timeless tales of loss, love, struggle and success."

The bonus material at this site includes four poems, a video clip, three podcasts, and some very sweet photos.

His poems on this site are:

Ice in East Saint Louis
The Last Sign of Spring
Our Heritage
System Twenty-four

The Video clip is from the TV show Pop was featured on.

The podcasts are: Music, Poetry/Literature, and Folk/Country.

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2 Responses »

  1. Such a treat! ...your poetry, your music are food for my soul. I thank you.

  2. Very neat to have Uncle Erwin on the net as well as T.V. Love, Jim

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