Love for writing comes full circle
As published elsewhere, Penn's love for writing started with a second grade letter to Santa Claus that won a prize in the local Thomaston paper. What gift like that wouldn't spark a child's imagination and result in an insatiable appetite for the written word? Penn's lifelong pursuit as a writer has been sincere and unwavering. He has developed a skill to weave elaborate and intriguing sentences that has garnered a host of literary fans and admirers. One person has recently said of Penn's writing ability: "You take me to a place where I enjoy going."
To honor and celebrate the 45th anniversary of that award winning letter, Penn researched letters written to Santa Claus that was published in The Thomaston Times in the 20th century. It was his original intention to publish only a sample of the letters over the 89 years of records, but one day, Penn felt that someone purchasing the book may be disappointed that their own letter was not included in the collection. Therefore he decided to create an extensive index that includes the name of every child whose letter was published by the Times during the 20th century. Two-thirds of the book is the index which contains the names of over 8,000 children. Included in the index is a reference code for each name which allows the reader to find the published letter(s) quickly in the archival records.
The local resident who wrote the most letters to Santa Claus during the 20th century was Lacy Ellington. She was faithful to write for 11 consecutive years. And although Lacy's early letters were written by her mother, they still count as they reflect the girl's heart and love for Santa.
Penn enjoyed his work on the book so much, he has started research on a Santa letter book for Pike County and plans to do the same for Lamar County in 2009.
The Upson book is a child-size paperback measuring 7" X 8.5".
158 pages $10
Friday, December 17, 1926 Ė Page 5
As I have tried to be a smart little tom boy this year I wont ask for much for I no there are so many boys and girls to visit this year it will be so much trouble for you and it may be cold and raining and the roads is rough to travel and you canít carrie much. Please bring me a tricle and a little wagon and a horn, apples, oranges and all kind of fruit. what you think a tom boy would like. Please bring me a pair of overalls so I can go with dadie I go with my dadie to the field every time he will let me go. From a little tom boy,
Onnie Mae Corley
[Mae Corley was Penn's maternal grandmother's sister.]
PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNY CLIFF, THOMASTON-UPSON ARCHIVES