Volume 2 , Number 1 , Fall 1964
Miss Anna Lou Griffith, left, and Mary Scott Hair at the Stone County, Mo., Centennial held in Crane in 1951.
When death stilled the pen of Miss Anna Lou Griffith of Aurora, our whole Ozarks region lost a valuable link with the storied past. For although she was in a writers prime of life, 43 years old, her best writing was done in the realm of our pioneer forebears, their customs and their traditions. This knowledge was firsthand. Her folks were early-day settlers in the Mineral Community not far from Aurora, and from there she wrote a column of local items called "From the Window". You see, Anna Lou fought a battle of ill-health all of her life, at times she was a semi-invalid, but always with a gallant spirit.
All of Anna Lou's friends were delighted when she received first prize (a check for ten dollars) for her poem "Customs of the Past". The contest in which she won was sponsored by Mr. Stanley Roush of Springfield who prior to the deadline announced his intention of giving twenty-five dollars in prizes for poems relating to pioneer life in the Ozarks. In all, thirteen regional "poets" submitted verse on a variety of subjects. But Anna Lous poem seemed to say everything.
"Anna Lou, did you ever write poetry before this contest?" I asked her. We were close friends and, to my knowledge, she did not consider herself a poet in any sense of the word, though her prose often read like poetry. She laughed and said, "No, the only claim I have is a poem I wrote about our school superintendent who died." She paused, then said thoughtfully, "I
didnt seem to have any trouble writing about him, so I thought I would try a poem for Mr. Roushs contest."
The poem was printed in the Fall issue of Ozark Hills and Hollers, 1956, a little magazine edited by Mr. E.A. "Pop" Whitmer and no longer published. It seemed to me it should be brought to light in this issue of our Societys Quarterly. We thank Mr. Roush for giving us permission to use it.
I have been very proud of Anna Lous writing achievements. Many times Ive remarked, "Who says the day of the country correspondent is past? Consider my friend Anna Lou Griffith who on two different occasions was honored for her writing by two state-wide organizations, Missouri Newswriters and Missouri Farm Bureau." Each time she received a beautiful engraved plaque.
But the best proof of her writing ability is the countless numbers of clippings of her "From the Windows" column tucked away in books, in the family Bible or in little trinket boxes and treasured. Items about neighbors and their doings were written with such sincerity and with that extra something which expressed her love without benefit of words.
Phillips Brooks once wrote, "No man or woman, even of the humblest sort, can really be strong, gentle, pure and good without the world being better for it." The world is better, for Anna Lou Griffith possessed all of those qualities. She is not forgotten.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues
Local History Home