Statue of George Harold Eardley (a WWII hero)‘Robert Jack Eardley’ by Jeff Eardley The Society November 8, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 18 Comments . Robert Jack Eardley was, for many years, Chief Psychiatrist for the U.S. Justice Department. In 2000, he organised a family gathering of thousands with our surname, in the small English town where the name originated. People came from as far away as China and New Zealand. Our home has seen much better days than these, This City born of Brimstone, Fire and Clay. Now tainted by sad dereliction’s sleaze, Of boarded up desertion and decay. But on one fine and sunny summer’s day, The welcome mat was rolled across the ground. This big-shot from the mighty USA, Was here to grace our English working town. Where pottery folk departed long ago, In search of better lives across the sea. They settled down in rural Ohio, East Liverpool, the place that set them free. Where Robert Jack had chased his DNA, Left dangling on his distant family tree. The secrets he discovered on the way, The circuitry connecting him to me. For years we’d got his letters sent to thank, We kinfolk with the self-same name as him. My Dad said, “You can never trust a yank If I were you, I’d put them in the bin.” But on this sunny day, we coalesced, We thousands gathered by the Churchyard wall. A family celebration of the best, And Robert Jack had organised it all. We dug deep in our pockets to afford, The hefty price of coloured glass and lead. The window in the Church was thus restored, Our family crest now shining overhead. And so, he flew away for to resume, His noble and illustrious career. We kin-folk of the fifties baby-boom, Would bless the happy quest that brought him here. The day he passed away, I shed a tear, Remembering the time he chose to spend. Amongst his happy family gathered here, Of Robert Jack, my relative and friend. . . Jeff Eardley lives in the heart of England near to the Peak District National Park and is a local musician playing guitar, mandolin and piano steeped in the music of America, including the likes of Ry Cooder, Paul Simon, and particularly Hank Williams. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 18 Responses Peter Hartley November 8, 2021 An incredibly heart-warming story, this, and brilliantly well told; and it provides the best reason possible for not being surnamed Smith. Genealogy is a fascinating subject altogether, but to be able to assemble so many folk in one place on the face of the earth with the same DNA and from so far afieldmust have been a unique experience for everyone involved. And what a fitting tribute to Robert Jack to have his, and the family crest of all the Eardlys, restored in stained glass in the family church! Not to mention this wonderful poem in tribute to John Jack and forever in his memory. Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 Peter, we are blessed with “ley” in our surnames which conjures up images of contented agrarian serfdom. Robert Jack was responsible for the raising of around £30,000 for the window restoration at St James church in the Staffs mining town of Audley. The excellent photo from Evan features a hero of the Cheshire town of Congleton. Thanks again for your kind remarks. Reply Peter Hartley November 8, 2021 Jeff – Yes, my surname in full means clearing (among trees) for harts, and has the same meaning as Hindly, Buckley or Rowly. It is a very common surname in south Lancs and west Yorks. Thank you ginormously for your very kind review of my little book, by the way, which I only found yesterday. jd November 8, 2021 So interesting! Enjoyed reading. It must have been a wonderful interlude in your life. You are blessed by your history and the knowing of it. Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 jd, thank you for your kind words. It was a great day and it was a privilege to meet, and shake the hand of such a kind and gentle American. Reply Joe Tessitore November 8, 2021 I’m with Peter – heart-warming indeed! This is as lovely as it gets. Thank you, Jeff, for sharing it with us. Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 Thank you Joe. He was one of your country’s true gentlemen and he did so much for us all over here. Reply Wayne H Frazier November 8, 2021 a story well told! Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 Thank you Wayne, much appreciated. Reply Brian Yapko November 8, 2021 Jeff, this is a truly heart-warming poem and story. Robert Jack sounds like quite a man. The project he took on sounds quite daunting. It must be very gratifying to know that you have so many widespread family connections. This poem has made my morning better. Thank you. Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 Brian, Robert Jack was quite a guy and it was humbling to meet him and shake him by the hand, just as my wife remarked, “He looks a bit like you!” He left behind an army of new genealogists and a huge, restored church window. Thank you for your kind words and for my own mornings enlightened by your wonderful poetry. Reply Sally Cook November 8, 2021 Dear Jeff – I loved your genealogical poem ! Thought I was the only one who wrote these, but guess not. I have a nice on on the site of the 800th anniversary of the founding of Liverpool by that scoundrel King John. However I can’t print it here as they claim they own copyright to some 800 poems, mine included. The plot? King John locks up an ancestress of mine and throwws the key away. Her crime? SHE TALKED TOO MUCH ! English humor, I guess. I hear bones rattling; better shut up and skedaddle. Reply Jeff Eardley November 8, 2021 Sally, what a wonderful tale of your forbear. “Ladies who talk too much” are mentioned in many English ale-houses. We have one called, “The Quiet Woman” with the sign depicting a well-dressed lady….minus her head. The connection with Liverpool and King John is fascinating. Your ancestor may be the DNA that started the delightful sense of humour of this great city that culminated in The Beatles, and best of all, the great Peter Hartley. I myself will now “skedaddle’ (great word.) Hope the rattling bones don’t keep you awake. Reply Paul Freeman November 9, 2021 Originally the name was ‘Beardley’, but the ‘b’ got shaved off. But seriously – what a great story, Jeff. Thanks for the read. Reply Jeff Eardley November 9, 2021 Ha Ha Paul very funny! At school, I was told, “The Eardley bird catches the worm.” Thanks for taking the time to comment. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant November 9, 2021 Jeff, I adore this poem. I used to be a genealogist – one of those boring folk who trawl through microfiche and heavy hand-written records to reveal the thickness of our blood. I worked at Somerset House and the Angel, Islington to unveil the wonders of family connections… but, it isn’t until reading a poem such as yours that I ponder the magnificence of my duties. When one sees the connections come to life through tangible beauty – the family becomes a force that can conquer all fears of not belonging. Jeff, your poem is a triumph and I’m reveling in its impact. Thank you! Reply Jeff Eardley November 10, 2021 Susan, the one thing I learned from Robert Jack was that no matter what your humble beginning, (like wot mine woz,) we should always take pride in our surnames which take us on a fascinating journey through the centuries, warts and all. I even discovered my great-grandmother who was drowned after falling from a narrow boat. What an interesting job you had and you must have re-connected so many. Thank you for your kind comment which has certainly made my day. I don’t know if you remember the great singer/songwriter Jake Thackeray. His song “Up my family tree” is a hilarious take on genealogy and is worth a listen, followed by a chuckle. Best wishes to you both and hope the dark-chocolate taste buds have returned. (Mine’s a Lindt) Reply David Watt November 10, 2021 Jeff, this a really interesting true story, and stylishly described with a fluency afforded by firsthand experience. Thanks for the entertaining read. Reply Leave a Reply to Sally Cook Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.