“Dreams” by Darius M. Ratcliff


In the land of my dreams, where what isn’t real seems

I’ve scaled lofty cliffs and clung to mere shelves,

I have seen the sheer depths yawning below

And clung for my life to my tiny rock ledge;

I’ve slipped from my ledge, I’ve felt myself go.

In the land of my dreams, where all possible seems,

I’ve run like the deer, scarce touching the ground,

I’ve jumped towering fences and buildings with ease;

I’ve leeped scores of yards amazing onlookers,

And at last I’ve sailed out right over the trees.

In the land of my dreams where dreadful things seem,

I once saw a great cat in a far reaching barn

A stalking my way, and I had no place to flee,

The cat was far greater than African lion,

But I wakened in time, he never reached me.

In the land of my dreams where fulfillment oft seems,

The sweetheart of old comes a smiling again;

And now she is beaming, her eyes speak of love,

I have won her at last, the dream has come true,

But now she has joined what dreams are made of.

In the land of my dreams where romance real seems,

I have met such sweet girls, and enjoyed glad romance,

I have looked in blue eyes and thrilled with their spell,

I have their sweet voices a whispering of love,

And regretted that waking has sounded their knell.

In the land of my dreams where pleasures real seem,

I have found swimming pools in come magic glen,

And I’ve dived to their depths enjoying the feel,

And I’ve swum with the speed for which oft I have yearned: –

I wish for just once this dream could be real.

In the land of my dreams where anything seems,

I have seen swarms of snakes, just coming my way;

If I killed one or two, there were multitudes left:

I’d have spotted monsters, and rattlesnakes too,

And I’ve wished for a dream with all snakes bereft.

In the land of my dreams when what is past present seems,

I’ve been engaged to a girl in a far away place,

Awaiting the day, awaiting my bride,

And then I have known, that years have since fled:-

“My sweetheart is lost”. She is here at my side.

Ethel Lepine Fulton Ratcliff, Age 18

Wife of Darius Mitteer Ratcliff,

New Jersey, 1904

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier

“To My Valentine” – Ethel Fulton Ratcliff by Darius M. Ratcliff, February 14, 1943

Ethel Lepine Fulton Ratcliff


February 14, 1943

Long, long ago, my dear,

I fell in love with you.

How sweet and happy were those days,

When love to us was new:

Do you remember Somerville,

And Greenknoll’s country side?

Do you remember Hurleyville,

Where summer joys abide:

If I were to fall in love anew,

I’d want to fall in love with you.

Our wedding day was minus guests,

And it was bleak and cold:

It mattered not to me at all,

For you were mine to hold:

I heard you say a glad “I do.”

And we at last were wed:

The joy has never left my heart,

Though many years have fled.

If I were to marry anew,

I’d want to marry only you.

You, dear, were once my own sweet bride,

They said, “The teacher’s wife”.

We had but little in our home,

But sweet to me was life.

We learned to love those country folks,

And they to us were kind:

I doubt if those in palaces

A greater bliss can find.

If I were to have a bride anew,

I’d want that bride to be just you.

For thirty years you’ve been my wife,

A loyal wife and true:

If I have won success or praise,

I owe it much to you.

And you are just as lovely now,

As when you were my bride.

I’ve learned to love you more and more,

With love that does abide.

If I were to choose a wife anew,

I’d want to choose just you, just you.

And we have reared a lovely girl, —

Many blessings with her go:And we have reared two precious boys,–

Ratcliff Family – July 16, 1926

Left to right 

Robert “Bob” , Walter

Ethel Fulton Ratcliff, Elizabeth “Betty”, Darius Mitteer Ratcliff

May they the Savior know.

For them we’ve toiled and sacrificed,

For them we’ve lived and prayed;

With them we’ve loved, joyed, and wept

With them we’ve hiked and played.

If I were to rear a child a new,

I’d want to rear that child with you.

The years will come, the years will go:

They’ll take away our strength:

We’ll find ourselves, if life is spared,

Grown old and weak at length.

So long the Christ has blessed us,

He’ll not forsake us then:

His grace for us will suffice

While we abide with men.

If I’m to grow old and feeble too,

I want to grow old  along with you.

Our hopes are placed with Christ on high,

We wait a coming Lord:

We glory only in the Christ,

We glory in His word:

We trust to love forever more,

And with Christ’s glory shine:

We trust the fullness of our Lord

Will be both yours and mine.

When I then live that life anew,

I want to live that life with you.

 Ratcliff Family – Naples, New York, 1935

Photos above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier


“The Day Betty Was Born” by Darius M. Ratcliff, 1942

Darius and Ethel Ratcliff

with Elizabeth “Betty” Louise, age 5 weeks


November 8th, 1915, Scriba, New York

There was not a leaf on the old pear tree,

The neighboring hill was bare and brown,

A cold wind tossed dead leaves about,

And through dead branches snow sifted down.

And all our song birds south had fled,

And summer flowers were long since dead.

The day made dark by gloomy clouds,

Grew darker still when high snow walls

Came sweeping in from the darkened lake,

And lashed us fiercely with blinding squalls.

The neighbor’s chickens that graced our lawn

Into their shelters were all withdrawn.

The village park was all deserted:

No children cared to venture out:

The chill wind’s joy finger tips,

Had put the loiterers all to rout.

And when we took a shortened walk

We both were far too cold to talk.

But then before the evening came

The clouds gave way, the sun shone through:

The sunshine danced on hill and tree,

The sky arched over with brilliant blue:

And joy, our home was all awhirl,

Our God had sent us a baby girl.

Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier