Have you ever read the poem, “What We Need” engraved on a grey, granite stone located on the Riverwalk?
Did you know that the eight-line poem was once a 22-line poem by Dr. Stephen Abbott Northrup? Dr. Northrup was minister in Kansas City, Kansas in 1913. He published his poem, “A Little More and A Little Less” in Pearson’s Magazine sometime before January 31, 1914, the date the Buffalo Commercial (New York newspaper) printed the poem and gave Northrup the credit.
Over the years the poem underwent many changes and was published many times in newspapers, religious and literary magazines, trade journals, and books of verse. In 1939, Charles Austin Miles, wrote a hymn titled, “A Little More and Less” for the Christian Service Songs hymnal.
The stone along the Riverwalk, I am told, was originally at the southeast corner of Chicago and Washington where the Netzley Car Dealership and garage were once located. The bronze plaque added to the monument, commemorates the memory of Clyde “Budd” Netzley, his nephew, Rufus Dirck Schumacher, and Clyde’s step-father, Harry B. Ridley. Both Rufus and Harry died in 1979. Clyde died in 1984, three years after he sold the dealership.
The Netzley family had been selling and servicing cars in Naperville since 1923. At one time, Beidelman Funeral home (now furniture store), on the opposite corner from Netzley’s, used to print the poem, “What We Need” on the backs of memorial cards.
Editor’s Note / This column by Bryan Ogg appeared in print for the April 2018 issue of Positively Naperville. As is customary, the story was posted online in rotation after and before other stories in the print edition. “A Little More and a Little Less” appeared online about 3PM on April 17, 2018. Within a few hours, news about the death of Barbara Bush at age 92 hit the airwaves. And we couldn’t help but think that “what we need” in our world also are more individuals with the lovable traits of Mrs. Bush that included grace, generosity, kindness, good humor, faith, and love for our country, just for starters. —PN