Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Raw Missouri clay forms Little People, big memories

Mom’s friend Ella Frances Dobbs liked the woods, came to fish and liked using raw clay from our creek to make little whimsies in her hands. She’d grab a handful of clay along our creek bank. One day she stopped us and said, "I’m going to fire this. I think it can survive high temperatures without drooping!"

Thanks to her discovery, I dug our local clay and sold what I called The Little People of Boone’s Lick Trail for many years. The Boone’s Lick Trail stretches from near St. Louis to western Missouri and has been so marked for many years. Many Columbia homes displayed - and some still do display - my imaginary people of the famous old trail.

Some of the pioneers represented were names we see on Columbia’s streets today; that was unintentional, but there were several dozen names to recall as I worked and too many "little persons" to identify each one by phone. There was a man who milked a goat while standing and a woman who had found a hen raising her baby chickens in the attic of the barn on a farm that had one well for water - but no pump. There was a hen and chickens, discovered in tall weeds, and the chicks were carried in the woman’s apron with the hen following, frightened, of course.

There were several dozen Little People, and I could relate, by phone, to all of those named Dad. "Dad" was milking the cow by hand - as my dad did sometimes. Mom was at the phone, taking orders, as she did many times a day. Bess was uncovering the well in her yard, to add a bucket of cream to the cooler in her yard. There was always a frog in that cooler, with her butter and cream. Miss Ada, a neighbor, caught her horse and hitched it to her buggy to go to church and back each Sunday, alone.

My list of Little People was a long one, and many people were flattered that I would name them; others objected, and I obliged. All of my Little People were appropriately named and with permission.

One will show up at auction some day, and I’ll be on hand to get one to keep.

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