As promised, here are the youth winners from our “Secrets: The mysteries behind unidentified photography” essay contest!
1st Place Youth Category
I never really expected raising a one-year-old in the middle of winter in Missouri would be so hard. While chores beg to be done the baby cries. Maddison never ceases to stop for she wishes to be fed and bathed. At the break of dawn is where I begin, at night is where Maddison resists for me to sleep while she puts her needs before my own. I guess I should have had it coming for I was the one who decided my own fate.
I never knew when I was younger that bearing a child would be so gruesome. All day I’m at work, ceasing to have any time to myself. Night is where I have time to myself. Though it is spent sleeping, I myself very much enjoy it and need my rest. I now know when she may be older I shall not have to withstand and bear my tasks. For now I will care for my dear Maddison on my own time and hands. She is my child and I would rather cease to sleep then let her fend for her own being. I shall finish what I have started, and love myself for caring for my baby. Nevertheless we are losing money and I shall have to marry to keep steady.
The thought of marriage again has crossed my mind during the days’ brutal chores, I have not decided. I shall think more some other day.
We only have about 300 or 400 dollars left to support ourselves. With no water we use the river’s water, which works but not extremely well. It is a bland Thursday in the month of December, wet snow and mush with little to no comfort. No heat and little to keep warm, my worries are huge.
Maddison’s birthday is on the 22nd of the 1st month of the year, January. As traditions go on with the present giving, I’m afraid I cannot do the same with Maddison. It is the 21st. I lie awake wondering how I shall tell a man how money problems got me to force love for a steady life. I wish it hadn’t come to this.
Then without another thought…
…Sleep took me whole.
Maddison is showing signs of a cough and fever, so for now I shall bundle her up with the warmth items we have to try and keep her from Polio. Which I am afraid she may have. I cannot afford to have Dr. Wright come to for her, for he is too expensive and we need all the money we have. I may have to for my angel. I shall call for him this Wednesday. It is the longest I can wait. My worries are cued by the minute.
My regular chores consisted of making the meals, sweeping, dishes, dusting, cleaning rooms, getting to Maddison, and many other things. But for now I was doing everything to keep Maddison from Polio.
By Wednesday afternoon Dr. Wright was giving Maddison her check up. As I waited upstairs I was pacing. By 12:00 sharp he came up with Maddison bundled up in his arms. I was relieved to see her smiling from ear to ear, but from the look on his face I could tell I was in for a surprise. A very frightful surprise. “Maddison does have early aged Polio. She may not live to see her 3rd birthday. I am very sorry Amelia…”
Why am I worrying more than before if I already know her outcome. Should I be worried or make the best of it? If I make the best of it how can I with little money? Well Maddison still has a fever and polio, I’m afraid she also may be stiff in the neck. She cries when she moves her neck and refuses to eat for it may hurt.
I have found a man who I am still testing the waters with, Finn. Well I don’t’ know how Maddison is since she has been not crying or speaking, but staring into silent darkness. I haven’t mentioned her to him. He came from Switzerland and he seems desperate, as am I for not money but also a lover. Maybe he might make Maddison’s 2 more years great. I can only hope that when he finds Maddison he won’t run away. Like the last one, Herald. I guess Finn has found out my little secret, but now Maddison has been paralyzed from her neck down but has learned to slowly eat. Today we have taken a photo of Maddison and Myself. Then we all took a photo of us. My baby, Finn and I! I hope we will have many more memories together, and maybe a new child. I think I will do better next time… Maybe!
Polio has been a very destructive disease and I am glad I have found the right man. Also I am glad that Maddison is still living right now. She could of passed on. But now I don’t live in a small house. It is more of a humble mansion! I am very glad for everything I have now.
3 years later…
I have now remarried to a man who loves me not for money or my looks Finn Courier. I am now Amelia Courier. When I first met him I found out we was a paramedic. Maddison is now very well but paralyzed from the neck down still and is five years old! She will need a wheelchair. We can now afford everything the three of us need! Water, food, everything! Like my mother used to tell me, “Finish what you started no matter what.” And I have. Thought we still face dawns that are challenging, I know we can get through it!
In many more years to come I may die, but I will die with the legacy of my child and husband, and everyone whose heart I have touched.
Honorable Mention Youth Category
A Difficult Road
It was a cold and dreary night in the town of Boone. The season was late winter, and so a bone numbing sleet was falling. The wind was howling like a pack of starving wolves, and occasionally the snap and crash of ice-laden limbs falling to the ground could be heard echoing through the near lifeless streets. On a night like this everyone was inside, either by the crackling fires of their homes or at the town hall meeting listening intently to the goings on. Other than the few wretched looking souls outside in the grip of the whirlwind. Why was this meeting so important that people would brave the tempest just to attend? Let’s listen in and find out.
“… and that brings us to our next order of business,” boomed John Crooks over the expectant whisperings that were rippling through the multitude of bodies crammed in the room. “Now, I know there have been rumors circling around town lately,” Mr. Crooks began confidently. “I will lay those rumors to rest by saying yes – they are true.”
Shouts issued from the now restless crowd.
“But the job’s only about four-fifths finished!”
“They haven’t finished by my house yet!”
“How will we get funds?”
Mr. Crooks spoke above the crowd, “Quiet! Quiet please. Thank you. I heard a few of your comments and I agree and sympathize with you. Yes, we are out of funds and not quite finished, but do not worry, we will find a way to finish what we have started. Mr. Herman, if you would please take the floor and explain to the good people of Boone just what is going on.”
“Thank you Mayor,” John Herman began. “As Treasurer of the town of Boone, I know firsthand that we are in the red with our funds; but we are not so far gone that this situation cannot be swiftly remedied. I believe I have come up with a feasible plan to raise sufficient funds as to finish this project within the next fiscal year.”
The Mayor leaned over and whispered, “Cut all the fancy chatter and just get to the point John.” That remark earned him a few chuckles from the crowd.
“Well … yes … of course,” Mr. Herman said, slightly flustered. “Anyway, the point is I have a plan, and that plan involves fundraising and perspective benefactors. I believe we should hold events in which most of the proceeds go to fund the finishing of the road paving. I also believe we can reach out to local business owners or individuals to donate a certain sum of money to speed the process along. I will now pass the podium on to our Street Assessor, Mr. Graft.”
“Thank you Mr. Herman. Now, I agree with what he was just saying, seeing as we only have part of the southwest corner of town to finish. That means we only need about $25,000 to be sure it’s done correctly. And with as fat of pocketbooks as some of us are carrying around, I don’t think it will take us very long. Hopefully for you all, this will be the last I talk at a town hall meeting for awhile.” A few good natured responses from the crowd affirmed his statement.
John Crooks got back up to address the crowd. “That will conclude our town hall meeting for tonight. I ask that if any of you can come up with some good ideas for fundraisers, don’t be afraid to suggest them to us, and if anyone would like to make a donation, no matter how big or how small, don’t be a stranger. Good night everyone.”
As it turns out, a few people came up with some great ideas for fundraisers, and their plans were enacted right away. One family volunteered their barn for a barn dance open to anyone in the county and beyond, with a date set for a lovely summer evening. Many local women volunteered to make baked goods and provide refreshments. The admission and money from the food were enough to take a sizeable chunk out of the funds needed. Another person came up with the idea to have a day in which citizens could compete in different games or activities of skill, with medals awarded to the top finishers. The money from these two events and others, as well as private donations were just about enough to fund the finishing of the roads.
The door to the mayor’s office opened and closed quickly as John Herman entered.
“Ah! What pleasant surprise,” John Crooks said. “What brings you to my office today John? Good news I hope!”
“Good news and bad news sir,” Mr. Herman replied.
“Well, I’ll take the bad news first so that I can wash it down with some good!” Mr. Crooks said enthusiastically.
“The bad news,” Mr. Herman began. “Is that we have not yet reached our goal for the road fund.”
“That is most disappointing seeing as it is already April,” Mr. Crooks mused.
“Yes, but the good news is that we are only $500 away from our goal,” Mr. Herman replied.
“Well than, what are you waiting for?” Mr. Crooks inquired. “Put me down for the last $500!”
“Are you sure sir?” Mr. Herman said in disbelief. “That’s a great sum for just one person to furnish.”
“I’m absolutely positive, so put me down as the last person on your list.” Mr. Crooks declared.
“That’s great!” Mr. Herman nearly shouted. “I can’t wait to see this project finally completed!”
Today was a great day for celebrating. The late May sky was a vibrant shade of blue, with only a few clouds scudding here and there. Marshal S. F. Foyer, the assessor W. F. Hargan, the county engineer K. C. Kastberg, Treasurer John F. Herman, Mayor John S. Crooks, and Street Commissioner S. C. Graft where all lined up, left to right, in front shining black Model T’s waiting for a commemorative picture to be taken.