That Annie Christmas was really something else. She was stronger than any man, but all woman! Although she lived more than one hundred years ago, people in and around New Orleans still love to tell stories about Annie Christmas.
Annie stood seven feet tall and weighed more than two hundred and fifty pounds. She had smooth black skin, a booming voice, and a good heart. While working on the docks on the Mississippi River, she dressed like a man. For parties, Annie wore a dress made of gleaming red satin. She also wore her favorite pearl necklace and always had on a hat with a red turkey feather.
Annie owned her own flat-bottomed keelboat, and on it she hauled cotton, flour, and lumber. Sometimes she carried passengers whose eyes popped in amazement as they watched her move heavy loads through the water.
Annie was a widow, but she had twelve big, strong, handsome sons, all born on the same day! Annie Christmas loved her work, but she always said, "My boys are my joy!"
One day, Annie got all dressed up for a fun trip on her boat. She asked some lady friends to join her on her trip. They sailed up the Mississippi River, stopping at river towns along the way.
At each town, a lady friend would leave Annie, who soon found herself all alone. When a fancy paddle-wheeler steamboat came along, Annie decided to get on board. She could hear happy music and lots of laughter coming from that grand boat.
When Annie arrived on board, she saw several men and women dressed in elegant clothes and having a party. Annie had a wonderful time eating, drinking, and dancing, and also gambling and arm-wrestling with the men.
Then it happened. Suddenly, the sky filled with black storm clouds, the wind began to rise, and a hard rain began to fall.
How will the steamboat weather the storm? Go to the next page to find out.
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