What we know
Mrs. Matthew (Rachel) Cole
1850 - 1926
Matthew Cole provided the money for the mercantile, the post office, and the millinery. Mrs. Cole ran the mercantile, the Ladies Aid, the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, and the Church choir. Two boys, Wayne and Walter. Three girls, Naomi, Ruth, and Leah. Two still births. Left Matthew1 after the children left home.
Mrs. Matthew Cole
strode down the aisle
every Sunday to lead the choir.
Pounded the gavel
every Tuesday to begin
The Ladies Aid Sewing Circle and Rescue Society.
Started a local chapter of the
Women’s Christian Temperance Union
and paid everyone’s dues
from the store's profits.
drank in secret.◊
One night, when Edna couldn’t sleep,
she took to shelling peas in the dark
on her front porch across from the White Owl,
then closing, well past midnight.
That was the night her Joel,
still exhilarated after putting
the Caller to bed, had been the one
to buy Rachel’s last glass of gin,
the one she needed most.
As peas fell into the wooden bowl,
Joel and Rachel thudded down
the uneven steps, onto the street,
whispering caution, not seeing
Edna shelling peas in the dark.
She watched them dance away,
her Joel laughing as if he had children
and they were sleeping, and he knew
their names and distant futures.
Rachel’s silvery knowledge of men
led the owner of the Caller
past trees and all that held Edna’s world
together. She never stopped shelling
the peas till they were gone. She didn’t
even mention the evening to anyone
but Allison James, who seemed
to need to know how little
temperance had to do with news.
When even her Joel, a man of precise habits,
a weekly duty to Marble Springs
that would last more than 40 years,
when even he could fall,
Edna’s private despair became Allison’s
last drink of temperance,
the crusader’s last hope of finding
a marriage where commitment traveled
slowly, but still faster than silver.