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"Footprints in the Sand" Lead to the Courthouse

Daily News

Online Only, posted 5.21.08

The son of Mary Stevenson, the woman who asserted that she was the original writer of the poem "Footprints in the Sand," is suing two individuals whose claims of authorship have allowed them to profit from the piece. Basil Zangare recently brought his case against Carolyn Joyce Carty of North Carolina and Margaret Fishback Powers of Canada to Long Island Federal Court, the New York Daily News reported, claiming that his mother, who died in 1999, penned the poem in 1936 when she was fourteen.

The main proof of authorship in Zangare's case is an early copy of the work, handwritten on notebook paper, allegedly verified by forensic tests. Stevenson did not copyright the piece until 1984.

According to the Daily News, Carty said that her great-great-aunt, a Sunday school teacher, originally wrote the poem, but that she was given permission to rewrite it at the age of six. She told the New York Post that she wrote the poem in April 1963. Powers claims that she penned the poem for her wedding in 1964.

In addition to establishing that his mother is the true author of "Footprints in the Sand," Zangare is seeking millions of dollars in damages and is attempting to prevent unauthorized parties from profiting further from sales of the poem. Various versions of the piece have been widely printed, most commonly on gift items and knickknacks, with the text sometimes attributed to Anonymous. While he has not sold "Footprints in the Sand" products, Zangare has permitted the poem to be used on tombstones and yearbooks.

The poem in question illustrates a dream in which a speaker walks alongside God on a beach as scenes from her life appear before her. The speaker questions why there have only been "one set of footprints in the sand" during challenging periods of her life. God answers, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you."

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