Peg O’ My Leg
Valley folks assumed she’d been born with one leg (poor Peg! unfortunate child!). She let them go on thinking so, because a birthing accident was way more glamorous than what really happened when she was three and wandered on two sturdy legs straight into the jaws of her Pa’s yellow and green Deluxe #313 John Deere corn picker.
And though it was an event of tragic proportions, she took comfort in knowing far worse had befallen her best friend and playmate, Rolly, who’d lost an eye and all of his dimpled left hand in the same week she emerged from the corn picker minus one leg. As a matter of fact, the kin of the boy who lost both his left eye and his left hand (giving him a distinctly right-slanted view of life thereafter) slaughtered the 2,000-pound prize hog responsible for defiling wee Rolly. Those attending the gala Hogzilla Roast (including poor Peg on her lone leg) would fondly remember the smell of pigs’ tails and pork ribs (big ones!), mixed with the pungent mists hovering o’er the Nodaway River.
Rolly’s missing left eye and missing left hand put him at a social disadvantage. This changed, however, when he was fitted with a blue glass eye and a hook. So improved was his mood that he eventually led The Valley Republicans, and by age ninety, was a wealthy preacher preaching righteousness and the inherent evil of hogs. Over the years, his hook came in handy when passing pork during Sunday Nite EverLife Church dinners, though mastering creamed corn was another thing entirely.
As fine as Peg’s folks were, they somehow overlooked her need for a second leg. She hinted like crazy around Christmas time, but year after year, she was gifted instead with, not the needed new leg, but instead, a pair of Sonja Heine ice skates. Since she could only use one skate (and use it she did, to perfect the Figure 8, no easy trick), her good Christian parents donated the spare to The Annual Rummage-For-Christ at the EverLife Church. Go there today, and you’ll find (in a box in the church basement), ten skates suitable for right feet only, along with gloves suitable for right hands only, and assorted jackets, each with three sleeves. Valley folks cover all bases just in case.
Anyway, eventually her uncle, Ed Splinter (a worker of wood, specializing in gnomes), got around to carving her a black walnut crutch. It carried her through her tender teen years when zits are bad, but missing parts are worse, plus it gave her the gumption to try out for the cheerleading squad. She’d already mastered jitterbugging, hurdle-jumping (but only the low ones) and running the 100 yard dash – barefoot on a cinder track – in three minutes flat, with her crutch. Her big disappointment was being cut from the Annual Water Ballet Ensemble, but without the requisite ten toes, she didn’t have a prayer.
Peg flew through the night air, completing the first flip in the double, then the second. She aimed upside down and right side up. Beyond the toe of her saddle oxford, she spotted the perfectly coifed, every-hair-in-place head of Daffy Slattery.
What ensued next is unclear, but Peg’s Double-Dip Flip became part and parcel of Valley legend. Her saddle oxford is, to this day, enshrined in the local museum of oddities….
This little gem originally appeared in Judith Ann Moriarty’s self-published chapter book, now highly-coveted and hard to find and including original stories and illustrations by Judith herself. If you love this whimsical tale of farm accidents and revenge, contact Judith Ann to see if she knows where any more copies might exist. –Ed.