Voices of the Ozarks – Glenda Pierce

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My name is Glenda, my maiden name was Robinson, I was married to John Skaggs who passed away and then I was married to Judd Pierce who also passed away. I was born July 2nd, 1934. I’ll be 85 years old this year.  I had 6 brothers and sisters, 4 brothers, 2 sisters. There were seven children in the family. I was born north of Patton Junction on a farm where we lived until I was about 5 years old. One story I remember about the farm house is going out for the day and forgetting my little sister.  Back then you didn’t have playpens or strollers so you would put a child’s dress tail under a table leg to keep them from crawling away.

Glenda, her husband John Paul Skaggs and their children.

We moved out to a place on HWY 51 north of Patton Junction. My father opened a filling station there. We lived there until I was 9 years old and that’s when we moved to Fredericktown. While we were there one of the things I remember best was working in the truck garden. We would work there while my dad worked at his filling station. I remember my mom would put my little sister in a horse collar to keep her from crawling away while we were working.


She started school in a small, one-room school in Patton Junction when she was 5. She went there 4 years and then they moved to Fredericktown. She remembers one of my teachers, Carl Fadler who started teaching at 18 straight out of Highschool. She relates a couple of stories about school there. Most days they took baked sweet potatoes for lunch along with a buttered biscuit.

She says her father’s filling station wasn’t doing very well so he took work building Fort Leonard Wood. He’d go and stay for two weeks at a time during which they didn’t have a car. She says one night her younger sister fell against the wood stove and burned her hands so her oldest brother walked the two miles to the store to get  Vick’s to put on the burns. Not long after that her dad got a job at St. Joe Lead Company and that’s when they moved to Fredericktown. She was 9 years old and started the 5th grade in Fredericktown.

She’s asked about remedies for injuries such as her sister’s burn. She says that usually her parents used the Vicks or cloverleaf salve for almost any kind of problem. When they had earaches her dad would blow smoke in their ears. The idea being that the warmth would help. She mentions never seeing a dentist until she was 15 and that her dad would get angry when they cried with toothaches.

She mentions that they didn’t have indoor plumbing or electricity during that time period.


She tells various stories one of which was about the man who delivered gasoline to her dad’s filling station. His name was Earl Mills and she was still very young then and terrified of him even though he was very nice. One time she got in her dad’s car and locked the doors then couldn’t unlock them. They had to break a window to get her out.

She talks about moving to Fredericktown and starting the 5th grade. She was younger than all the other students except one other girl that lived around the corner from them. She’s still very good friends with this girl and sees here every couple of weeks. They were friends in school, worked together in St. Louis for a while and have remained friends all the years since.

She says that while their house on High Street in town did not have indoor plumbing it did have electricity which she remembers.  Her house was just a couple blocks from school and she’d go home most days for lunch and sometimes would take a friend with her.


She tells the story of her parents dating and the same night as their the first date, her mother’s older sister, who had 6 kids, died when her horse drawn  buggy over-turned when a car drove by honking the horn. She explains that her sister’s six kids were then each adopted by others in the family. Her mom and dad would eventually end up taking the youngest of those. Many years later she would find out that it was her father-in-law, the father of John Paul Skaggs, that was the person driving the car that honked the horn and caused her sister’s death.


She tells a story of coming upon an accident between Patton and Fredericktown in which three people had died. They were on the way to the dentist because she was having problems with one of her front teeth. It was her first time to a dentist and at the time the dentist in town was Dr. McDavid, his offices was on the second floor of the Sonderman Building. She had a root canal with no medication. She relates a story about Dr. McDavid’s wife had a nephew who was a famous actor, William Holden, who she met when he came to visit their school.


She relates a story about her younger sister catching scarlet fever and her house being quarantined. She and her siblings stayed with the neighbors during the few weeks of the quarantine so they could keep going to school. Her mom stayed at home with her sick sister. Her sister missed the rest of the school year.  They lived in the house on High Street for about 5 years then moved to another house near to the cobalt mines. Later they would move into another house which she describes as brick and having a nice wrap around porch. That house was torn down but was in the location now a building occupied by Hill Insurance.


She talks about her first boyfriend, Jim Roseberry. When she was 15 her sister had her first baby during that time and Jim came to get her at school and took her to see the baby.

She graduated from high school in 1951. She thinks there were 72 or 78 graduates in her class. She was a good student.

Glenda tells the story about her brother Lindel being caught behind enemy lines in World War 2. For eleven days he hid in the crawl space of a house that had German soldiers in it. The people that owned the house snuck him raw potatoes and turnips. When the soldiers were pushed back he crawled 2 1/2 miles to get back to his troops. She describes getting the telegram in early December that he was missing and presumed dead. Their mail carrier, Gus Wagner, came across a letter from Lindel on Christmas morning. He came straight away to the house to give them the letter because he knew of the earlier letter that had informed them that Lindel was missing, presumed dead.  She says that was the must unforgettable Christmas of her life. Lindel returned with some injuries but recovered well and lived to be 87.

Glenda tells of loosing her various siblings over the years and says that she is now the oldest living member of her family now.


She talks about her generally very good experience of high school and says she was in the top 10 of her graduating class. She especially loved art. She talks about being recommended by her business teacher, Eloise Mitter, to work for a local business. She was 15 and started working for the Rottenburg Motor Company. She graduated when she was 16 and worked for him until that summer when she went to work in St. Louis for Carter Carburetor. She worked there and stayed in St. Louis for a couple years before returning to Fredericktown and marrying John Skaggs.


Glenda talks about her job at Carter Carburetor. For the first three weeks she worked in the mail room. Twice a day she’d take a trolley between the office in the theater district to the manufacturing plant. Eventually she was assigned to the engineer-drafting department with 36 men. She handled their blueprints and records and stayed in that department the rest of her time there. She really loved the job and became friends with some of the men in the office who would later come to Fredericktown to attend her wedding. Her close friend from school in Fredericktown worked with her in another department and in fact she says quite a few people from Fredericktown had gotten jobs at the company. Another that worked there that mentions by name is Lloyd Lamb who she still knows and sees.


She talks about the Lamb family and several others (the Royers and Means families that live out west of town). She says that they joke that the various families west of the Courthouse and west of town are all related. While that is actually a joke she does say that the various family’s are close knit and friendly with one another.


Glenda talks about reconnecting with her first boyfriend Jim Roseberry. Eight years ago he was brought into the nursing home where her daughter Joan worked. He had aphasia and could not speak. His wife was there but had Alzheimer’s and so Jim was always alone so Glenda began to visit with him 2 to 3 times a week. She’d have lunch with him and sometimes take him out for rides around town. He died around 3 years ago.


She talks about raising her six children, two boys and four girls. Ruth Ann, Beth, Joan, John Paul III who died of a staph infection when he was 50. In 2011 her youngest son, Rob, died of lung cancer.

She has 44 grand children: 11 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, and 6th and 7th great-great are on the way. She knows all their names and birthdays but not the years born.

She lost her father in 1977 to a stroke and her mother in 1991 at 86 years old.

She says three of her girls are still here, one, Donna, is out west having had a career in the Navy for 14 years. She shares quite a lot about Donna and her love of aquariums and marine life and animals in general. She’d also had a raccoon, newts, fish and other things.


Glenda talks about her youngest son, Rob, and the problems he had when he was young and in the public school. Turned out he was fine, he just didn’t like the teacher he had. In the 4th grade things improved when he got a male teacher from Marquand, Basil Starkey. Basil encouraged Glenda to get Rob to read by offering him different things such as comic books or sports books or whatever he might find an interest in. Eventually he did start reading and it became a daily habit for him.

She also shares a few stories about Rob’s cancer and his dry sense of humor.


Glenda mention’s her husband John Paul and his knowledge of the local history. She says that when he died a lot of knowledge was lost.

She says that she had started dating John Paul while in high school. Then went to St. Louis and worked for a year or two before coming back and marrying. She’s asked how she and John met and she tells the story about going out to the farm with a bunch of other high school friends one snowy day to go sleigh riding. John used his truck to pull them around on their sleds. Then they came back to the house and had hot chocolate and sat by the fire. Eventually John took her home and they started dating after that. He was 10 years older than her and that bothered his brother Raymond and her parents weren’t entirely comfortable with it at first either.


She’s asked about where her and John lived. She says they first lived in the small blue house on OO that is near the larger family home. When they began having kids they needed more room and moved into town into a brick house just off West Main. They staid there until around 1970 then moved into another house on Maple Drive. She describes the neighborhood and the nearby families and the pool that they had that was frequented by the neighborhood kids.


She talks a bit about Donna’s pet raccoon, Rocky, that had been orphaned. She took care of him until he grew up and they turned him loose when he bit her and was getting old enough to breed. She tells another story about Donna’s newts which she thought were loose in the house.

Glenda shares about her son John who had health problems, particularly his hip bones which required repeated surgeries and resulted in him always being on crutches and then a wheelchair. One group of boys teased him but eventually one young man, Sie Merriman,  stood up for him and would help him in and out of school.


The interview concludes