Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

The mother of one of my girlfriend chums w...

The mother of one of my girlfriend chums was Hattie Parsons Page. Hattie was a non-conformist who homesteaded in Oklahoma as a young single woman. By coincidence, the adjoining homestead was owned by a bachelor.

John Page seemed generations older than Hattie. He was a soft spoken, easygoing man. Hattie married him, and they had three children -- two boys and a girl, Catherine, who was my age. Several years later, they moved to our community. So slow moving was John that neighbors said, “Page’s corn sprouts before he gets his team of horses to the end of the row.”

I now know that part of the reason for my friendship with Catherine was to be closer to Hattie. I admired Hattie’s style of “do your own thing” and was proud that she entered the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism at the advanced age of 38 years. Other students stared at her on campus. Hattie didn’t care.

Her early education was at a girls school in Liberty in the 1800s. She told of trimming her own lamp wicks and filling the lamps with coal oil. She carried coal and tended the fire in a little stove in her dormitory room. The “facilities” were out back, reached by going down a “path to the bath.” She pumped water from a well, carried it to her room and heated it on the little stove. She then bathed from a pitcher and bowl.

The home on their farm was one of the earliest two-story brick buildings built in Boone County. The first owner, Tom Turner, brought slaves to help burn the bricks from clay dug on the land. Plaster was made from burning limestone rocks from the creek. Beautiful doors and other woodwork was fashioned from walnut trees from the woods.

Mom was Catherine’s music teacher, and Hattie hitched a little brown pony to an open buggy and drove about five miles to bring Catherine to her lesson. On their way home, they let me ride a mile and walk back home.

The Pages owned two Italian made violins, which had been purchased from an itinerant Italian peddler. After her youngest son’s death, Hattie gave me his violin. It had pictures on the back -- a mountain scene, a bouquet of flowers and a lovely young girl. They had been damaged by age and brittle varnish. I still treasure the violin and will see that it goes back to the Page family eventually.

Hattie was a fun person. Work didn’t get in the way of her making taffy for Catherine and me or taking us to the creek to swim or fish. On Pie Supper Night at the country school, the family invited me to come and stay all night. About 4 in the afternoon, I rode my new bike down the gravel road toward Catherine’s house. This less traveled road was clay mud, which balled up between the fenders and wheels. I got off and pushed and could hardly move the bike forward.

After it was pitch dark, I was still struggling through that mud! Soon, I heard a noise in the woods that sounded like something saying “O-u-u-ue.” It was a long way off, but getting closer. Was it an owl? A tramp? An animal?

None of the above! It was Hattie, dragging her feet through the mud in four buckle overshoes. She was calling “Su-u-u-ue!”

She looked mighty good to me at that moment. Hattie lifted the rear wheel out of the mud and carried it as I guided and pushed on the handlebars. We were a little late for the pie supper, and I was disappointed that Mr. Page bought my pie instead of a boy my age. Nevertheless, a great time was had by all.

Hattie Parson Page, next to my own parents, was a very important person who helped to shape my life. Perhaps it was her influence that caused me to choose MU’s School of Journalism after I graduated from high school.

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