Charles “Charley” Dennis Martin, teacher and poet, was born on June 28, 1909 to Dennis and Louise (Porlier) Martin. The Martin’s lived on a farm in Parker Township near Randall, Minnesota. Charles taught English at Little Falls High School, his alma mater, for nearly four decades. Well-loved and respected, the auditorium in the new Little Falls Community High School was named for him when he retired in 1974. Charles married Duane Heltemes of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, on December 29, 1937. Charles and Duane had three children – Dennis, Sharon and Thomas. Below are two poems written by Charley Martin from “Voices of Yesterday: With memories of Morrison County, Minnesota and the USA” published by The Morrison County Historical Society in 1977.
I love this place God’s set aside
With lakes and pines and rolling lands;
I love its wilderness and rich, cool earth
That feels so good within my hands.
I love this place-
I love the cold, harsh winters
That tumble into rivers in the spring-
And the hot rip’ning winds of summer
And threadbare autumn-
When birds southward take to wing.
All these things-and more-are mine
To make my love so great.
My home-it’s Minnesota-
It’s My State!
(When summer training ends at Camp Ripley, Minnesota.)
Silently, the doe steps from the swamp
And noses curiously the breeze
That rises gently with the dawn.
And whispers in the trees
That the gunnered sentry
No longer trods with measured tread,
Nor do tracers needle through the night
Sewing Heaven with their golden thread.
That man has disappeared
With his cannon, trucks, and plane,
And left the fields and hills
To her and God again.
Then she signals to her fawn
And taps with dainty hoof a muskrat mound-
Then turns and flags the wind
And moves to higher ground.