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Henry Boxx, Ozark Board MakerHENRY BOXX

The Ozark Board Maker
Elsinore, Butler County, Missouri

Mr. Boxx says:
"I am sixty-six years old and a native ov Butler County, an' one of the best counties in Missouri 'cause we are way off down here in the southeast part ov the state where we have land that will produce the biggest ov anything frum big rivers an' creeks, big timbers, big corn an' pumpkins, big watermelons, big 'possums an' persimmons, big 'coons, big fish an' frogs, an' some purty good-sized snakes an' mosqueeters, but since I've been old enough to work, my job has been makin' clapboards an' nailing 'em on roofs ov Ozark homes.

"I jist wish I knowed how many boards I have made, an' how many Ozark shacks I have kivered in my life. I split the boards out by hand with frow an' hand mallet.

"I made sixty thousand one summer an' nailed 'em all on the roofs myself, besides other work I done. I make 'em out ov white oak, black oak, an' pine timber. White oak, or black oak is the best timber for boards, an' will last longer. If they're made right, an' nailed on the roof right an' at the right time ov the moon, they will last for thirty-five years.

"I allers nail 'em on in the dark ov the moon, an' they lay flat an' make a good smooth roof; but if you nail 'em on in the light ov the moon, that is when the moon is shinnin', then they will curl up at the end, pull the nails frum the lath, an' come loose frum the roof, an hain't no good at all.

"I am well known all through the Ozark hills as the Board maker an' roofer,' an' can take you back today to log cabin homes with clapboard roofs that I made twenty-five thirty years ago, that are still purty good roofs.

"There's a lot to know about how to split boards out to make 'em last, as well as to know how to nail 'em on the roof. There's two ways to split 'em - bastard fashion,' an' 'timber fashion,' an' if you split 'em 'timber fashion,' they soon cup up an' twist when hot sun strikes 'em, an' will split open an' the water leaks through; but if they are split 'bastard fashion,' the board will stay straight, flat, an' will not season crack when the sun strikes it, an' will not leak, an' makes a good roof.

"In my workin' around, I've hearn people in the north Ozark counties laff at us fellers in the southeast part ov the hills, an' say we had nothin' but a paradise for snakes an' mosqueeters, an' that it takes three frogs to live a year down here, an' two ov 'em had to be doctors, an' the other a nurse, but let me tell you, I've see'd some fellers in the north part of the Ozarks who were about six feet six inches tall, an' not enough meat on their bones to make a hamburger sandwich, that didn't look so hot; an' if you would size 'em up an' look 'em over, you'd think their mother wuz an angle worm, an' their father a clothes line."

Painting and text by Lennis Leonard Broadfoot, copyright © The Harlin Museum, used by permission. History Works is supported by a generous private gift and a cadre of community volunteers. Collaborating groups include the Harlin Museum, the Bryant Watershed Project, and the West Plains Council on the Arts.

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