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Ralph Burgess, Hayden, Missouri

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Catherine Hayes, Postmaster of Hayden Store

With grateful acknowledgement to Catherine Hayes' family, where you can visit to get the rest of the story

July 4th, 1961 the day a little boy came into Hayden Store for an ice cream and she took an interest in his welfare. That day will never be forgotten and neither will Catherine Hayes.
Catherine was born in Hannibal, Mo, to Mattie and Reeder Clement, November 14, 1912. When she was about three years old they moved to St Louis. Mattie Clement was a seamstress, (A craftsman), who taught Catherine to sew at a young age. Catherine and her mom had quite a following of people requiring their services for bridal gowns, baby dresses, and the like. She started high school but started working in a grocery store. Because of the depression, times were hard. Catherine quit high school after her freshman year to work full time.

Living across the street from Reeder and Mattie was a couple from the Dry Creek area, John and Ruth Jones. Ruth had a brother, Charley, who was staying with them while working in the St Louis area during the summer. Charley was attending college to become a teacher. Shortly after Charley met Catherine, they became an item. Catherine thought that,; Teaching school is an honored profession and that Charley would be a Good catch;.

(It didn't hurt that he was also quite a handsome dude). Charley and Catherine were married in 1933, by a Justice of the Peace. They went back to Ruth and John's house after the wedding. John had left his lunch box home that day and Charley and Catherine's bridal lunch consisted of one of John's bologna sandwiches.

Charley and Catherine moved to the Vienna area when, upon receiving his teaching certificate, Charley started his first teaching job. His first teaching assignment was at Bloomgarden, a one room school about one mile from the Gasconade River, just off highway 63. Shortly thereafter they started their family. Charley had been teaching at Bloomgarden for four years when they moved to a farm, (As Catherine called it,;The holler) so that Charley could pursue, not only his love of teaching but his second love, farming.

In 1949, Charley, Catherine and family moved to Hayden, Mo when they bought a farm from J. Ray Thompson, the Postmaster at Hayden. The property included the farm, a store, gas pump, and the U.S. Post Office at Hayden. Catherine was appointed Post- mistress on July 1, 1949 and rapidly developed a talent for merchandising. Catherine and Charley took their old pick-up truck to St Louis and bought a load of remnants of material, patterns, thread and odds and ends and started the Hayden Fabric Shop. Utilizing her skills, learned early in her life, she knew exactly what material to buy and how to buy at the right prices. The shop became very busy and Catherine decided to expand into other towns. She had shops in St James, Eldon, and Wentsville when Charley had a heart attack. They decided to back out of the fabric businesses as soon as was possible.

She wrote the "Hayden Items" for the Maries County Gazette and the Dixon Pilot for several years. She was the community "Beacon" for news, social events, emergencies, etc. and contributed often to The Reader's Digest about local happenings of generic interest.

Utilizing her merchandising skills, Catherine had dramatically increased the sales volume of stamps purchased at the Post Office through the years. Had she not increased the sales so greatly, the Post Office would have been closed in the 60s. In June of 1972 Catherine retired as Postmistress. At that time the U.S. Postal Service permanently closed the post office.

Catherine loved her Country. She loved to travel the country and to meet new people. She would talk to anyone that would stand still. After the death of Charley in 1973 Catherine remained on the family farm. She enjoyed traveling with her, (As she called them), running buddies Beda Nelson and Olave Minze. They traveled to St Louis, Springfield, Jefferson City, Branson, and even visited a son in Huntsville, Alabama, and a son in New York. Her son in New York worked for a company that had a private jet plane. On a trip to the west coast the plane stopped in Springfield and took Catherine and her sons mother-in-law to New York. Catherine's comment after going from Springfield to New York in two hours; Sure wish Charley could see me now;. When her granddaughter was attending University of Missouri/Rolla, she invited Catherine to a sorority party at the University. Catherine was just delighted.

In 1977 Catherine was diagnosed with Leukemia and was given a relatively short time to live. At the end of a visit by her son she informed him, ;This isn't going to get me yet. I have too many things to do and some grand kids that I want to see grow up. While visiting one of her sons in New Jersey she started internal bleeding and was admitted to the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor told her son that she probably wouldn't make it through the night. Her son, knowing her spirit, said,;This is one tough lady. Nineteen days later she got on an airplane and went to Florida to visit another son.

Catherine and Charley had three sons and two daughters, six granddaughters, four grandsons, nine great-granddaughters and six great-grandsons. Quite an accomplishment for a couple that had to share a bologna sandwich for their wedding dinner.

Catherine passed away at the Rolla Hospital on June 29, 1987. While going through her many treasurers we found the following article tucked away neatly in a shoe box. We think it was written in 1982.

Eldest Son: Robert O. Hayes

THIS LAND OF OURS, copyright, Catherine Hayes

Do we really appreciate this land of ours or just take it for granted and expect the United States owes us a living?

How many of us have even looked around us and noticed the beauty of our surroundings? How many of us really know and have seen our own Missouri? We think of going on vacation or on a trip to the East or California or Colorado or some state that has beauty-true, but don't you think we have beautiful spots in our own Missouri?

I was raised on a prairie, not a tree to climb or to put a play house under, not a creek to swim in or to wade in or catch the Bull Head, and the Sunfish. Trees to me are sacred. I look over our 200 acres and marvel and think, they belong to me! I can't stand to see even the scrubbiest oak cut down near the house and my husband says they are a detriment to our water system.

Now that my childhood days are over and I listen to my daily customers who visit my post office and country store, I begin to list the cultural advantages of our youth. We had a home where there was plenty of books and magazines and instructive conservation; about parents who believed in what was right and decent, and in giving their children a good education; about a little community where people put their roots down deep into the soil of an America they loved. A place where it wasn't considered nosy to be interested in your neighbor and concerned about them in their time of trouble.

Today I live in such a community and am very thankful. Being a postmaster, one also has to serve as a public relations agent for the neighborhood, ready to help in any emergency. I have been called to an attempted suicide, stroke of a brother-in-law, death, car wrecks and many unpleasant duties. I am also called upon to be the Civil Defense Coordinator of our locality, P.T.A. petitions signed for different complaints and a number of things for which I am thankful I am well and able to do.

To ward off childhood delinquency in our neighborhood, we have long dusty roads to ride bikes, creeks and a river to catch the fish, a bluff to swim under at Clifty Creek, a famous advertised Natural Arch, formed by nature which is visited by many tourists. Rabbits, squirrels, quail, and deer to hunt when in seasons, the yapping of a coyote, fox and coon hunts in the night, the pageantry of the harvest, where youths can make extra pen money during the hay and combining seasons. We have the charcoal kilns which many neighbors go sweating by with their log trucks, also trucks of golden grain, sweet smelling bales of hay, the fodder going to silage silo's.

On cold winter days, men would come and sit by my fire, and sometimes the women would come along, and all would spin yarns. It isn't the civil war days but WW II they often discuss. Doubtless, there was an element of fiction in the tales they tell but there is also pride. For some of the older group, who were the leathery pioneers who lived thru droughts and blizzards and the devastation of grasshopper years, and who have taken this raw plains country by the scuff of its neck and turned it into a gracious, smiling land. These pioneers are few but so interesting to listen to. They are fast passing on to their reward.

In those days our public orators called America "The Land of Opportunity" and "The Greatest Country on Earth" and it was never doubted. In our schools, churches and homes we were taught pride in our country. The copybook maxims dealing with such things as hard work and honesty and patriotism were not only drilled into us, they were believed in and acted upon. I don't think we get enough drilling nowadays.

It never occurred to anyone that our environment was limited, or that all this was unsophisticated or corny. It was merely part of the atmosphere of a simpler time and place when the values of life seemed more nearly black and white. If our attitudes were uncomplicated, they at least strengthened character and put purpose into toil and struggle.

These, then, were some of the facets of a small-town childhood. Surely, in the late afternoon and many a crisp autumn day in Missouri, the whole heavens from earth to Zenith flames with the majesty that some dim comprehension of infinite entered into the hearts of our youth.

Some scientists say the brilliance of the sunset is caused by dust in the air, but this explanation seems unworthy and untenable. The Lord gave sunsets to the prairies for the same reason that He gave the rolling Atlantic surf to the eastern seaboard, a noble blaze of Fall foliage to New England and snowy mountain peaks to the far West, as therapy for the troubled human spirits.

And now as time changes, our farm people are building new houses or buying property in small towns or cities. Our city people are buying small pieces of land in the country where they can have peace and quiet after many years of fast city living. The soldiers' families are retiring as far back as they can get as they've traveled, been to so many social affairs and want to be alone. They also try to stay close to an Army post so as to get benefits allotted to them.

Life becomes steadily more complex. And who is to say our era is better than another. When America was essentially rural, there was a tang in the morning air, dew on the grass, a far horizon and these were the days for the soul of a youth and a nation. It still can be.

I'm so thankful to be an American. I recently saw "America The Beautiful" pictured in a magazine. It seemed to make the words of the song come alive and meant so much more to think we do have spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple majesties, fruited plains and all the things that are in the song. We all take these for granted too much. We need to remember this country is experiencing a new attack of conscience. Having twice set out to save the world, it has begun to wonder if its people care enough even to save one another. Certainly we do, America The Beautiful, look around you and see.

Catherine Hayes, Hayden, MO

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