Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Local author to share great grandmother’s poetry
Book of verse sat on shelf

February 10, 2011

Lyons — Nettie Grace Greninger Strohm found beauty in living, and she recorded her observations in hundreds of poems she wrote through the course of her life.

The poems were kept in a notebook and intended for family members to read and enjoy.

In 2006, Nettie’s great granddaughter, Linda Skiles, Lyons, was so impressed by the poetry that she decided they deserved to be published and shared with the world.

Skiles recently announced she is ready to publish her first selection of her great grandmother’s poems in “Nettie’s Fountain Pen — Homespun Philosophy.”

The book is expected to be ready in early March.

Skiles said her project began in 2006.

A loss of work caused her to turn to the collection of spiral notebooks that had been passed on to her upon her great grandmother’s death in 1976.

Skiles said her original plan was to get them compiled into a single spiral bound memento to share with her brothers and sisters, cousins and other family members who might like a copy.

Skiles began to transfer each piece of poetry, written using an inkwell and fountain pen, word for word into a computer.

As she did so, her great grandmother’s words inspired here and brought her hope.

It was then, Skiles said, that she felt others could benefit from Nettie’s thoughts, and began to fit her poems into a book.

But first, in 2008, Skiles set aside “Nettie’s Fountain Pen” to complete a pictorial history of her hometown, Lyons, entitled “The Things I Know and The Stories I’ve Been Told,” which was released in November 2008.

Skiles then returned to Nettie’s poems, intermittently changing formats and adding graphics.

In early 2010, out of fear Nettie’s book would never be completed, Skiles created a website and began posting some of the poetry.

The site generated positive feedback.

With encouragement from her family, and the help of her sister, Sandra Eschenbacher, who did illustrations, the book was finally completed, Skiles said.

The first volume, “Homespun Philosophy” will be released on Feb. 28, 2011, on what would have been Nettie’s 129th birthday.

Skiles calls it a tribute to a very special lady with a lasting legacy of love for life.

The book contains more than 200 poems and is divided into nine sections: Family, Hodge Podge, Landscape, Memories, Nature, Philosophy, Seasons, Spiritual and Travel.

Skiles plans to release a second volume containing the remainder of Nettie’s poems later.

Skiles said that Nettie’s poetry comes from a time when life was much simpler, folks seemed friendlier and the days passed at a slower pace.

A wife and mother of four, Nettie found solace in expressing her thoughts through pen and paper, oftentimes sitting at her secretariat on the third floor flat above the family-run saloon.

With a minimal education and no television or computers, Nettie Grace Greninger Strohm relied on her experience and her mind’s eye to pen piece after rhyming piece about her childhood on the farm, life with her family; the joy and beauty of the seasons, and her undying gratitude to her Lord, her God and Savior.

Nettie Grace Greninger was the ninth child born to John and Caroline (Metz) Greninger on Feb. 28, 1882 in the town of Honey Creek.

Her mother died when she was a young girl leaving her father and older siblings to raise her.

On June 7, 1900, she married Frederick Christian Strohm in Burlington.

They raised a family of three sons and one daughter while operating “Strohm’s Saloon” on Pine Street.

Skiles said she remembered her “great grandma Nettie” as a gentle, loving, yet spry lady with a very positive outlook on life.

She lived on the third floor above the family owned saloon until the age of 92. Her back porch, filled with purple African Violets, overlooked the railroad tracks.

She clipped newspaper clippings, “Look” magazine articles and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

For special occasions, she would write a poem.

Copies of the book are available by printing and completing the order form at Skiles’ website Nettie’s Fountain Pen,

The 346-page book sells for $24.95 plus tax, shipping and handling.

To reserve a copy complete the order form and mail to Linda Skiles, P.O. Box 73, Lyons, 53148.