It was a special occasion at the Abaco Inn on February 11 when more than fifty people gathered for a book talk, signing and lunch to celebrate the 12th volume of poetry by Adelaide Cummings. Mrs. Cummings has been a second home owner in Hope Town for many years and is well loved within the community; so friends were delighted to come and help her celebrate on this memorable day.
The most remarkable thing about this lady is that she is a very sprightly 100 years of age. Having spent a lifetime of writing, Mrs. Cummings says that this book, entitled ‘Swan Song’ will be her last.
‘Swan Song’ is the title of the last poem in the book and in it she portrays her love for all of the beauties of nature, her acceptance of aging and her gratefulness for her long and beautiful life and peace for what is to come.
Although a native of Tennessee, Mrs. Cummings has spent the last portion of her life in Massachusetts and in 2012 was named Falmouth’s first Poet Laureate. She began her writing career as an English Major at Radcliffe, going on to write for magazines such as ‘Harpers Bazaar,’ ‘Country Life,’ ‘Town and Country’ and ‘LIFE.’ In 1938 she resigned from ‘LIFE’ to travel the globe for a year and among other exciting things was guest of the Maharajah of Jaipur. She then continued with her writing which included four books in addition to her anthologies of poetry.
She focused throughout the rest of her life primarily on poetry for she said “it is such joyous fun.” She is known for her rhyming verse which is witty and full of dry humour, but also often reflective. During the luncheon Mrs. Cummings read three of her poems showing her contrasting styles.
Several people paid tribute to Mrs. Cummings at the luncheon. The first was her step daughter, Sally Goodrich, who described the romantic first meeting between Adelaide and Lev Cummings and their first visit to Abaco in the late1950’s when they stayed with Dave and Phoebe Gale on Parrot Cay. She also mentioned that her stepmother was a tennis player and this remarkable lady did in fact win four Olympic gold medals in the senior division when she was in her 80’s.
Ann Gearen spoke on Adelaide’s genius for friendship.
“She has been blessed with many gifts – a strong body, agile mind and talent for poetry and the ability of knowing how to be a good friend. She has so many friends because people are drawn to her wit, warmth and charm,” she commented.
Ann’s husband John mentioned that Adelaide’s favourite hymn is ‘It is Well with My Soul” and that every year a choir sings it for her. At the end of this special occasion at the Abaco Inn all of the guests stood to join in the singing of a verse and chorus of that special song for Adelaide.
Ruth Harkin and Trudy Eagan also spoke of Adelaide’s strength, determination and love for life.
Following these tributes and the reading of her poetry, Adelaide Cummings was presented with a beautiful bouquet of red roses by Tom Hazel, Manager of the Abaco Inn. Nine copies of ‘Swan Song’ signed by the author were raffled with all proceeds to be donated to Every Child Counts School.