Even though she was just 5 years old, Stella Anne Richardson vividly remembers growing up terrified in World War II-era England.
"Every night the sirens would go off and we'd go to the (bomb) shelter," Richardson recalled in her still-lingering British accent, closing her eyes. "A bomb dropped on the village next to us. The next day we went to see and all we saw were kids with no clothes on the side of the road."
More than 60 years later, Richardson still plainly remembers going to school with a bag, a lunch and a gas mask.
About a decade later, at age 16, Richardson penned "The War," a heart-wrenching poem of the things she remembered of that time.
"Oh, you never forget," she said. "You never, ever forget."
In "England to Alaska," her appropriately-titled new poetry book, Richardson compiled decades of her original poems, beginning when she was a teenager in Portsmouth, England, to the 40 years she spent in Sitka, Alaska, to retirement in Sequim. Some are serious - the war-related poems and poems of breakups - and some are lighthearted - she has written several poems about her 10 grandchildren and about the beach in front of her Diamond Point home. Some are flying-related: Richardson flies airplanes and owns a Cessna 172 plane and a Swift plane and has written several poems about the hobby, including "The Wondrous Sky."
"The winds and weather demand respect," she cautions in that poem.
Richardson said she began her love affair with poetry at the age of 8, when a grade school teacher had the class do several rhyming exercises.
"The teacher at school was very inspirational," Richardson said.
Since then, "if something comes to me, I write it down and keep it," she said.
When she retired a year ago, Richardson came up with the idea to compile all her poetry into a book. The task was arduous and included combing through decades of poems as well as writing many more, but Richardson said it was worth it and now she is hard at work illustrating a children's book written by her son, Mark Conway.
"It's very exciting," Richardson said of seeing her years of work in print. "It's truly a collection and I had such a great time doing it."
"From England to Alaska" is now available at PublishAmerica.com by searching her name and will be available in Sequim soon.
Richardson will hold a book reading and signing from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at The Buzz.
by Stella Richardson, written at age 16
The sun begins to sink in the sky,
as the evening approaches.
The sudden darkness brings the change; sirens wail.
People run for shelter. Peace is lost.
Then the waiting begins.
Life or death? Who can know?
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