Book Review | The Stovepipe

This is a very nice review of my book, The Stovepipe. The writer was very thoughtful and I appreciate her kindness.

Foster Adoption Blog

The StovepipeThe Stovepipe, by Bonnie E. Virag

The Stovepipe is a heartrending and heartwarming story of a four-year-old girl, who, along with three sisters and a brother, is taken by force from her family farm and placed in the foster care system. As time passes, they are often separated and later reunited as they are shuffled from one foster home to another. The four girls spend their most formative years on a tobacco farm where they live in abject fear of their foster parents who show them no affection, force them to work as common farm laborers, keep them locked in unheated attic bedrooms, do not let them partake in the family meals, and deny them access to the inside sanitary facilities. They are constantly threatened that they will be separated again if they misbehave. Their strong sisterly bonds and the pranks they play to get even with their foster parents help the girls to keep their will and spirits from breaking and to endure the years of willful neglect and unspeakable abuse.

When I was contacted to review The Stovepipe

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Three Levels of Fame

1. On the “first level” – wherever you go, “someone” recognizes you.
2. On the “second level” – wherever you go, “everyone” recognizes you.
3. On the “third level” – wherever you go, “everyone” recognizes you – but “no one” can believe it is really you.

The Primer’s Lament

Well I spent one day in an awful way,
I’ll tell how I felt,
“There’s quick money, “they said –
I was easily led –
“Over in the tobacco belt.”

It was half-past four, or a little more,
Us boys were sound asleep,
When the Boss’s roar at the bunkhouse door
Brought us out in a crumpled heap.

We put on our clothes in a semi-doze
And staggered out the door.
All the stars on high in the cold black sky
Chilled our bones nearly to the core.

An old steamer hissed in a cloud of mist
Beside the shadowy kiln,
By the lantern gleam in the rolling steam
We emptied that kiln with a will.

When came dawn at last we all broke our fast
On toast and oatmeal glue.
The coffee was cold, and as scarce as gold,
And the eggs a sickly blue.

Now thus fortified to the field we hiked,
The boss and priming crew.
The tobac you get in a cigarette
Was all I ever knew.

“Now then, there’s your row, and before you go
I’ll show what I mean,
“You just pick the ripe,” was the boss’s gripe,
“And be sure to leave the green.”

I stood all a stew in the dripping dew,
As puzzled as could be,
There were leaves below and above also,
But they all looked green to me.

I began to pull ’til my arms got full,
And looked up for the boat,
It was over the hill with Tommy and Bill,
Aw, those guys really got my goat.

I took one step, but I wasn’t hep,
To the slippery tobac,
When I felt it slip, I tightened my grip,
But the leaves slithered out the back.

How the hours dragged by as the sun climbed high,
It seemed I’d soon be dead.
There was no break, I was one big ache
From my toenails up to my head.

I had sold myself for some quick-made self,
And pondered o’er my plight,
A strong back, weak mind is the primer’s kind,
And I swore in the fading light.

“I am going home never more to roam,”
On bended knee I knelt.
“O how I repent giving my consent
To come to the tobacco belt.”


For anyone who worked in the tobacco fields in Ontario, Canada during the 1950’s and 60’s will get a chuckle our of this poem. I know I did.

Freedom Forever

We must keep Good on our currency,
And Christ on our Christmas cards,
We will keep Jesus in our hearts
And Nativity scenes in our yards,

For we love our great Country,
And for freedom we shall sing,
Freedom to keep all we treasure,
That our Constitution brings.

For the Lord is our Shepherd,
He will guide us all the way,
We will love, worship and seek Him,
To Him we will kneel and pray.


Let Freedom ring forever,
Let Freedom ring today,
Freedom must be forever,
No one must take it away.

Bonnie E. Virag

The Orphan

I looked into the child’s eyes
They were big and they were wide,
But there were hollows of sadness
Buried deep inside.

She was longing for affection,
A hug, a kiss, or word so kind,
To ease the pain she felt
Coursing through her mind.

She is now a grown-up woman,
Still wondering how it’d be,
A happy, carefree, little girl,
Sitting on her daddy’s knee.

To have had kind, loving parents,
Who wished her all the best,
Who tucked her in to bed at night,
Where she’d enjoy contented rest.

-Bonnie E. Virag

Things that trouble me.

I was shocked when watching the news that was covering a story on the State of Hawaii. It was reported that someone could rape a young child and only get two years in prison. Unbelievable! This is an abusive and horrible crime and and the trauma and memories of this horrible violation wil stay will that young child for the rest of their lives. I know.