Whether she was vacuuming, changing diapers or putting dinner on the table, Effie Simmons was not only busy raising five children, she was writing down ideas for poetry on whatever scrap piece of paper she could find. Today, those scraps of paper and 70 years-worth of poems have been self-published in a book.
“I started when my children were little. It was more to entertain them than anything. I’d write about something they did,” said Effie.
As her five children grew up, Effie continued to write poetry for her 12 grandchildren and enjoyed singing the song, “I love you a bushel and a peck” to them, too. Recently, one of her younger grandchildren, Kelly, helped Effie dream up the idea of publishing all of her poems and scraps of paper into a book for the family to enjoy.
“Kelly and I were talking and the idea came up to publish my poetry. She offered to gather the poems and assemble them. She arranged it all. The first section is poems I wrote for my family, the second section is about the seasons – nature and life in general – and the third section is poems I like by other people. In the back of the book we included pictures of the scraps of paper with my ideas written on them. Then she called the book, ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ since that was something the grandchildren remember me singing to them.”
Effie had several other talents she shared with family and friends over the years. She made quilts for all of her family members and shared the fruits (and veggies and flowers) of her labor from her garden. Before her arthritis got bad, Effie made greeting cards with designs made out of folded strips of paper, “just like little quilt pieces.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, Effie shares that her proudest accomplishment as a mother was “raising five kids and working nights as a nurse.” She and her husband, Frederick Earl Simmons, were married almost 60 years before he passed away. Their family continues to grow. They have eight great-grandchildren and are expecting two more in May.
Effie has lived at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor for about 14 years. While her arthritis keeps her from writing poetry and folding paper greeting cards, she enjoys reading a lot. “I usually read historical novels where I’m learning something as well as reading for enjoyment.”