Story by Jennifer O’Connor
Among the many items unearthed from the 1967 Time Capsule from Veterans Memorial Park on Sat., Aug. 5 was a true treasure – a touching poem written by Annabelle Houston Feagles. Annabelle, who was 74 years old in 1967, wrote a heartfelt account of the Village of Warwick she refers to as the “Village Queen.”
Later in the evening of Sesquicentennial Saturday, after the capsule was opened, her poem was read by David Dempster, a member of the Warwick Valley Rotary, before a large crowd that gathered to watch the grand fireworks display light up the night sky in celebration of the Village’s 150th anniversary.
Tears streamed down the faces of many people that evening as they were taken on a journey of life in the Village through Annabelle’s poem. The poem speaks of the Village’s stately avenues that have “big trees still with loving care,” and about the changes that have taken place over the years in Warwick.
Annabelle, whose ancestral lineage in Warwick dates as far back as the Revolutionary War, had experienced many of these changes herself, having been born in 1893 in the Village of Florida to William and Mary Armstrong Houston. Until her passing in 1975, she lived in the Town of Warwick her entire life where she married her husband, George Feagles, and had a son named, James.
Some of the changes Annabelle touches upon in her poem include the construction of new homes; the “big stone Mansion” that has become St. Anthony Community Hospital; and automobiles replacing horses. She appears surprised by the “exit of the horse” and that automobiles “came and really stayed.” Annabelle fondly reminisces of “the thud, thud, sound of lovely horses feet.”
The poem attests to a time in which banks first opened as a safe place for people to put their money and she expresses how unbelievable it is that “man had learned to fly” by putting “a plane in the sky.” All-in-all she writes that these changes “add more jewels to the ‘Village Crown” as the Village looks ahead to the next fifty years.
Annabelle wonders when the time capsule will be dug up who will read her rhyme as her poem reads, “I shall never know, I’m sure…Few will e’en recall my name those fifty long years away unless four dear boys, now four to nine…may recall how Grandma played a game with them to make words rhyme.”
The four dear boys she refers to are her grandsons – Jeffrey, Christopher, Douglas and Timothy Feagles. They are all grown up now with families of their own. Jeff, a former Marine, and his brother, Tim, both work for the Town of Warwick. Chris is retired and resides in South Florida and Doug, who is a developer and owner of Eagle Custom Homes, lives in Ohio.
All four of Annabelle’s grandsons did not know that their beloved grandmother had placed her poem in the time capsule until they were notified after it had been discovered. They were all shocked and delighted.
“She had been gone for so many years and reading her poem has allowed me to see my grandmother again,” said Jeff Feagles.
Jeff and his brothers grew up in the same farmhouse with their parents and grandparents on a dairy farm in Amity. The house was shared – split in half. Having been raised in a loving home, he has fond memories of his grandparents, especially of his grandmother.
Instead of receiving a typical birthday card from her, she would write a special poem to him every birthday. She had a way with words even in high school when she penned the Alma Mater for S.S. Seward Institute. She also wrote a book of poems that ‘til this day continues to be treasured by her family.
Jeff recalls reading a poem she wrote about how much she disliked cars. The motors of the first cars made were very loud because they didn’t have a muffler. Cars often frightened horses, which is why Annabelle wasn’t fond of them.
“She referred to cars as bugs in her poem and she wanted to squash them because they scared her horses,” said Jeff.
Jeff refers to his grandparents as the “original survivors” who lived in an era where they did everything from making their own clothes to fixing anything that needed to be repaired. They knew how to do it all and in everything they did, they always dressed in proper attire. His grandmother never wore pants and his grandfather worked on cars and farm equipment while wearing a buttoned-down shirt.
They had reverence and respect for all of mankind. They cherished their loved ones and treasured the hard work of others. This is evident in Annabelle’s poem as she pays tribute to the men who have built churches like the Old School Baptist Meeting House which “remains sacred to all around,” and she thanks those who have worked hard to “save the antique, sacred spots of town from falling in a deserted grave.”
Although Annabelle has passed on her spirit is very much alive in Warwick through a copy of her poem which is currently hanging on the wall in the atrium of Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick. The original poem that she penned will be placed inside the 2017 Time Capsule that will be buried at 4 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 14 in Veterans Memorial Park, located at 60 Forester Ave. in Warwick.
To answer Annabelle’s question as to “Who will read my rhyme?” – many have and will continue to read the rhyme and most importantly, her words have touched the hearts of the entire Town and of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
By Annabelle Houston Feagles – August 1967
Nestled there in the Valley
A little village lies
Retaining its lovely beauty
‘Neath stormy or sunny skies
Its English name of Warwick
With its stature calm, serene
Has held its head up firm and high
To be known as the “Village Queen”
“Queen Village” it has called itself,
None other took its place
“Queen Village” was a lovely name
No other village could erase
Up the stately Avenues
In grandeur to the past
The big trees still with loving care
Their faithful shadows cast
“Til now its hillsides have become
With new homes to add a bit
To the Village care
As the years passed on and on
Changes it has seen
New houses built, new stores have come
To enlarge the “Village Queen”
A Hospital was added
For Folks who were ill or hurt
Built onto the big stone Mansion
Erected by Grinnell Burt
It was he who used great force to see
That a Railroad came to town
The Village owes Respect, we know
To men of such renown
Churches, many, came to town
Where folks could worship God, and pray
But especially standing firm and tall
In memory of another day
The “Old School Baptist” Church remains
Sacred to all around
For lingering in its hallowed walls
The memories of the past resound
Once folks knew the thud, thud, sound
Of lovely horses feet
And then a new day came along
To make their exit quite complete
For someone, somewhere built a wagon
Complete without their aide
Automobile they rightly called it
It came and really stayed
It saw the exit of the horse
It really came to stay
Today the horseless carriages,
Are used by millions on their way
And soon the Village saw aloft
A plane up in the sky
A sight quite unbelievable,
For man had learned to fly
Livery stables soon were closed
To see opened a garage
Where autos came to seek repairs
And there to rest and lodge
Then came the day when Banks were opened
And Folks could joyfully say
“We have a place to put our money
And know it’s safe for a rainy day”
We wish to thank, with pride and joy
Those who’ve done so much to save
The antique, sacred spots of town
From falling in a deserted grave
Changes, changes everywhere!
Buildings built and some torn down
A new library, new home for the mails
Add more jewels to the “Village Crown”
And now in Nineteen Hundred sixty -seven
The village seeks to pay renown
To the Hundred years that have passed by
Thus add more jewels to its Crown
Many hours of work have been given
By those who felt their time well spent
To make the coming celebration
A great and glorious event
When the capsule is dug up
In the year Two Thousand Seventeen
Who, in fifty years from now
Will be the “Village Queen”?
When we look ahead to fifty years
How very far away, we dream
But when we view years backwards
How very short they seem
I’m wondering in that far off day
Who will read this rhyme?
I shall never know, I’m sure
I shall have reached my final resting time
Few will e’en recall my name
Those fifty long years away
Unless four dear boys, now four to nine
Or their parents if spared to view that day
They may recall how Grandma played
A game with them to make words rhyme
‘Twas lots of fun in that old day
We had a lovely time
We speak of changes in the past!
What changes fifty years from now?!
We do not know, we cannot tell
But to God’s wishes we must bow
And so may God Bless Warwick
Make its future safe, secure
And may the name “Queen Village”