-Belle B LeBoeuf
1888 - 1965
Belle is perhaps the most elusive of the poetesses I have encountered so far. I have had a great deal of difficulty tracking down any information about her at all. It could be that she married more than once, making it difficult to discover anything about her life after the second marriage. If any visitor here has any information on Belle, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
[March 2016 - I have heard from a relative of Belle's who helped me to fill in some more of Belle's life, which I include below.]
What I think I have found out about Belle is that she was born Belle B Alford in Muskegon, Michigan on 29 August 1888. She lived with her parents, Frank B Alford and Lucy Harriet Bowman, at 133 Ottawa Street in Muskegon for much of her childhood years, along with brother Claude and and sisters Lulu and Pearl. (It appears that they had perhaps the children of friends or relatives living with them in 1900; John and Ina Ferris)
In 1908, when Belle was 20 years old, she married a man named Fred W Carnes in DesMoines, Iowa. I believe that he was somehow related to her, as his mother's surname was Alford, she was born in England, as was Belle's father, and emigrated to the U.S. at the same time as he did, settling in the same town in Michigan. Fred was 15 years her senior, and the marriage apparently did not last. They divorced (and I did discover that Mr. Carnes married for a third time when he was 60 to another 20 year old!).
About 1914, at the age of 26, she married Frank X Leboeuf (b 1888) who was a motor mechanic at Buda Engine Company in Cook County, Illinois. The couple resided at 15200 Lexington Ave. (1917) and then at 14928 Broadway St. (1920) in Harvey, Cook county, Illinois. By 1920 they had nephew Frank Alford living with them. Then, by 1940 the LeBoeufs had moved to 13222 Spruce Street in Thornton, Cook county.
Sadly, Frank Leboeuf died in 1944 leaving Belle a widow at the age of 56. However, she did remarry, this time to a gentleman by the name of Benjamin J Tattum, who had emigrated from England in 1925 with his first wife (who had passed away) and son. He worked at the Buda Engine Company as well, and was likely a friend or acquaintance of the Leboeufs. They were wed in June of 1945. During her marriage to Tattum, her poems were published many times (under her name Belle Tattum) in the Ludington Daily News under their poetry column, Driftwood. I also found reference to Belle Tattum as "noted writer of children's books" in 1961, but have yet to find any of these.
Belle's third husband outlived her by more than a decade, as she passed away on 8 August 1965 at 77 years of age, and was buried in her home town of Muskegon, Michigan. On her grave stone is inscribed "Author and Poet". I have not found any writings of hers as "author" as of yet, only her book of poetry.
Belle self-published her poetry book, The Treasure Chest, in 1939 when she would have been about 51 years old and living in Cook county, Illinois. My copy is inscribed "March 30, 1939 Best Wishes to Helen Dunham" and is signed by Belle.
The Treasure Chest
by Belle B LeBoeuf
Girls Will Be Girls
I am sure that you will agree when grandma was a girl,
It was quite common to put up her hair each night to curl;
Then in the morning she appeared in a pretty lace cap.
She kept her curlers so concealed till after she had her nap—
Then she stepped forth in grand array;
Long sleeves and petticoats and snug fitting stays,
High collar and hose you couldn't see thru;
Grandma was bashful and had modest ways.
You'd not catch her parading the street,
Curlers covering her entire head
No sleeves at all and sockless legs.
Now snug fitting stays are a thing of the past,
Thank the Lord, that craze didn't last.
In spite of grandma's modest ways give me the girls of today;
They wear fewer clothes and have bolder ways
But will make just as good grandmas, — What do you say?
"TICK-TOCK --- TICK -TOCK --"
So said grandfather's big old clock;
It stood for years on the stairs, ticking off the time,
It was made of real mahogany and had such a tuneful chime.
It never seemed to hurry you,
And as I recall to mind;
It seemed to say so soothingly,
"TAKE-YOUR-TIME --- TAKE-YOUR-TIME."
But the little French clock on the mantle
Sang quite a different tune;
Small and gilt and fancy, it didn't take much room;
You had to squint to see its face and wondered why it ran a race.
I can't figure out just what it said,
If it was "PARLEY-VOUS --- PARLEY-VOUS"
Or, just hustle up, and
The French clock is a Parisian creature, gorgeous and petite,
Dainty little features and tiny little feet;
But give to me my granddad's clock, with its mellow chime;
For it's such pleasure just to "TAKE--YOUR--TIME--
Whatever else this day may bring,
The sunrise was a beautiful thing;
The sky was streaked with flaming red
White clouds and streaks of blue.
'Twas such a blaze of splendor,
I thot old glory was shinging thru.
And so I sat me down to think sober thots of worth;
What a blessed land to live in, the best on all this earth.
We do not sing "God save the King",
For God our King shall be;
Enlisted in His service we realize our liberty.
Hanging before me on the wall are five charming little faces,
All dressed up in their Sunday best, organdy and laces.
Emilie sits in her rocking chair,
Crossing her knees with a grown up air,
Yvonne is holding a basket of flowers,
As sweet and dainty as a rosy bower.
Annette is smiling to show her pearly teeth,
Mischievous I grant you, but she surely is sweet,
Cecile is dressed in pink and blue,
She sits on a rug making eyes at you.
Marie is wearing a picture hat,
Tied to her head a bow, big and flat.
I am sure you'll agree these five little girls
Are the only quintuplets in the whole wide world;
They have won fame and fortune in a very short time,
And the love of the nation and all lands around.
They're the Dionne quintuplets, and may every one
Live long and be happy till life's work is done--
They are a blessing from heaven, a miracle too;
Five little French lasses so pretty and sweet,
Happy and gay and very petite.
* The Dionne quintuplets were born in May of 1934, and are the first known quintuplets to survive infancy. They were horribly exploited as children, shown to the public in a zoo-like manner at a residence where they had been taken, away from their parents. They were extremely popular in both Canada, where they were born, and in the United States. Two of the 'quints', Annette and Cecile, survive today and live together in a suburb of Montreal.
Times Have Changed
I've watched folks go by my house now for twenty years,
Some I know very well, some not at all, I fear--
Some merely say "How-de-do", and go along their way;
Others come right up and speak, and that's the proper way.
With some we share our joy and sorrows,
With some we laugh or cry;
And I wonder what the folks are like
That just go hurrying by.
I wonder if they're sad or gay, if I could help them on their way;
Life has so many hidden woes 'twould make it better to say
To all the folks who pass your door tho you've never met them before.
A greeting by surprise will always cause a smile,
'Twill make the work day easier and shorten a weary mile.
Grandma said to Davey, "Did you wash your face?
To eat you breakfast before you do is a terrible disgrace."
"Why, no," said Davey, blushing red,
"I washed before I went to bed."
"It makes no difference if you did,"
Said grandma in dismay;
"I was taught when a little girl
To wash anyway."
"But, grandma," replied Davey;
"That was long ago.
Folks don't do that any more,
Don't you suppose, I know?"
Now Davey's trying hard to do
AS so often he's been told;
Be polite to grandma,
Remember she is getting old.
Simply be polite to her,
And let the matter rest.
Grandma really loves you
And means it for the best.
When you've grown to be a man;
A daddy and a grandpa, too,
All the things that grandma says
Will all come back to you.
You'll tell them to your children,
Many times a day, and feel you'd like to box their ears,
If they dare to say, "But, grandpa, don't you suppose I know
How folks did things long ago?"