Volume 3, Number 2
I was born June 29, 1884, on a farm near Juden Creek, three miles from Cape Girardeau. My father said it never rained harder before or since that day. Perhaps that is the reason I've had such a hard time keeping my head above water all these years.
Our three-room house was considered very nice at that time. My father and mother were well respected and farm folk. Our fireplace was huge covering nearly one whole side of the house, and in winter massive logs were piled high in the fire box to keep us warm. Mother cooked, roasted, baked, and heated water there.
The room which held the fireplace was larger than the other part of the house. The floor boasted a rag carpet. In this room always spotless, we ate, took our Saturday night bath, entertained our company; and many a night I fell asleep curled up close to the warm fire while Father read The Good Book, and mother knit our sox, by lamplight.
My great granmother came from Dublin, Ireland. My father, James Abram Penn, is a direct descendant of William Penn.
For 12 long years I carried the mail in Cape Girardeau County. That was the horse and buggy era, when the mail had to go through.
I remember on one occasion when it had rained all night in torrents, the creeks raged. Most of the bridges were wooden, and the first one on my route was covered with water but not deep on the floor. I had no sooner reached the other side, and looked back, when I saw the bridge break loose and float away.
On down the road I met with more water so deep that I sat on the back of the seat holding the mail pouch and bag, while water ran through the bed of the buggy. My faithful mare felt her way through.
Another time I was in the process of training a new man on the route. We noticed a fallen mail box. While I was standing between the wheels of the buggy, something scared the mare and she ran away, with me holding on for dear life, my feet draggin in the gravel. I could not get back in the buggy and if I let loose I might hit my head on the axle... I held on as long as I could, and then dropped. The mare and buggy kept going. I staggered over to the side of the road. My partner finally caught up with me and it was difficult to tell which was the most frightened.
After the mare ran her course she was alright, but I turned the reins over to the other fellow. I was a mess by the time we reached home. My face was all bunged up and I could hardly walk.
Another time I was traveling over a rocky hillside. I stopped to put mail in a box. I saw a huge rattler. I picked up a pole some ten feet long. When he raised up I let him have it with all the force I could muster. I broke the old serpent's back. On examination I found he was nine feet long, with nine rattlers and a button and very pidey. I took him back to town where he created quite a stir.
Most of the people on my route were wonderful, but 0! my! some were so inconsiderate, like the woman, on a freezing morning brought out $10.00 worth of pennies (Sunday School money) to get a money order. Of course every dad-blasted penny had to be counted.
My mother, Charlotte Hopper, married James Abraham Penn in 1883. I had two brothers who died in infancy. When I was twelve my mother passed on to the Glory Land. Father remarried and I suppose his wife was alright, but she did not take the place of my mother.
The Lord was merciful and good to me though, for I married a most wonderful girl when I was 21 year old. Fifty-eight years of happiness we've had, rearing nine children, all living, all residing in the Ozark area except one son who lives in San Antonio.
Cape Girardeau is a wonderful place to live, but the altitude is low. Two of my sons took tubercolosis while living in this low country and were sent to the sanitorium at Mt. Vernon. They did recover, but we thought it best to get away from the low country, so we moved to this wonderful hill country and have never left it except for short vacations. We love the climate and the people.
This is surely God's country and my past was taken up with the rearing of my family, but now I do find time to write a little about the glorious Ozark country and the people I have loved for more than forty years.
I hope that "Nancy Ozark Mountain Girl" along with "Love Through the Wagon Wheels" will soon find their way into your homes.
P.S. I might add, the old mare that was so faithful in carrying me over the mail route, was driven by my two sons from Cape Girardeau to the Ozarks. She was just too close to me to leave behind.
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