MORRIS – Outside Frances Hall’s door is a plaque that reads: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Hall, 93, of Morris, feels the same way about her poetry and landscape photography, which have spiritual themes. Both interests developed separately, but several years ago, Hall merged them in specific ways.
“One day, an idea came to me for a poem and I thought, ‘I’ve got a picture that would go good with that poem,’ ” Hall said.
Hall, familiar with computers from her employment days, scans her photos and poems into a single sheet, prints them out and then sends them to loved ones in lieu of store-bought greeting cards.
Occasionally, Hall adds Bible verses to those sheets. Hall said she always keeps a stack ready to disperse.
It’s a way to send personalized, thoughtful well-wishes. It also puts to good use the folders of poems Hall has written over the years and boxes of loose photographs that never made the albums.
“I’ve got complete poems I’ve never done anything with,” Hall said, “not even typed them up.”
Artistry in action
The first time Hall wrote a poem, she was listening to gospel music on the radio when her daughter Cheryl was only 2 years old.
Through the years, when inspiration struck, Hall wrote an occasional poem and then tucked it away. Over time, Hall accumulated many folders. In 1998, after her husband Ronald died, Hall began traveling to Canada and around the United States with her niece, Jean Lanranger, and sister-in-law, Lois Hall, both of Coal City.
Although Hall arranged most of the pictures in photograph albums, she also amassed boxes and albums of loose photos she took on those trips.
“I love outdoors. I love beautiful scenery,” Hall said. “It reminds me of God’s creation and that inspires me.”
This love for artistry ran in her family, Hall said. In high school, when she and her sister AnnaBelle Hayes were quarantined with measles and scarlet fever, they amused themselves by singing with their mother Anna Jensen.
Anna was an accomplished singer and pianist who used to play the piano in theaters during silent films, Hall said. Hall would bring out her banjo uke – a four-stringed instrument with a banjo body and ukulele neck. AnnaBelle just sang, Hall added.
“Music has been a big part of my life,” Hall said.
Also in high school, Hall was part of a trio that often sang for Rotary lunches in Kansas, where Hall grew up. That trio was resumed after graduation when the three friends worked for the same radio station. Hall was a receptionist at the radio station.
After moving to the Joliet area with Ronald, Hall joined Phelan Acres Bible Church in Wilmington and sung in a trio there, too. The trio disbanded just a few years ago, Hall said, when one of the women had trouble remembering the words.
“I never stopped singing,” Hall said, “only now I sing for my own entertainment.”
God – and being
true to oneself
Hall no longer takes photographs, she said, but not because she’s lost interest. During two instances of downsizing her home, the camera was misplaced.
So in addition to her poetry, Hall has found another way to share God: She leads an informal weekly Bible study at Park Pointe Senior Living in Morris, where she lives.
While Hall feels that a natural talent for verse is as important for poetry as inspiration is, she offered one good suggestion for novice and experienced poets. One, Hall feels that good poetry should rhyme. Two is more nuanced.
“Let your heart be your guide,” Hall said