1924: One of Eleven

January 20, 1924

11:00 A.M.

New York

            “Holly! You’ve been skating since you were seven years old, how has that cross stroke not gotten any better? If you’re not going to try you might as well get off the ice!” My father yelled from the middle of the rink.

             “You know I can’t do that, Coach. I leave tomorrow for France!”

            “Exactly! You leave tomorrow for the Winter Sports Week, so you should be trying much harder than you are right now. You want to make your mother proud, don’t you?” I ignored his last comment; I just can’t stand when he talks about Mother like that–like she’s still here. Her death was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. Even though she died when I was seven, fifteen years isn’t enough to ease the pain.


            “Grab me another drink will you, Darling?” My boyfriend James asked from across the table.

            “Sure!” My response made me sound much more enthusiastic than I was actually feeling, but I wouldn’t let that show. I begged James to take me to his speakeasy and now that he finally has, I just can’t let him know how uneasy I feel about being here. I swiftly walked to the bar and ordered a shot of whiskey for James, but almost immediately after uttering the order, screaming was heard from all sides of the room.

            “THE POLICE ARE HERE!” James yelled while grabbing my arm to pull me to safety. Before we even made it to the doors, police had grabbed us both.

            “Father? Can you please come get me? I’ve done something dumb and now I’m in jail!” I cried over the phone.

            “I’ll be there in half an hour.”


            “Holly, what were you thinking? You could’ve lost your chance to go to the Winter Sports Week if they had decided to hold you overnight.” Father has never sounded so disappointed in me before.

            “I don’t know! I guess I wanted to spend my last night in America with James and I just didn’t care where we went.”

            “That boy is nothing but trouble, how could you have let yourself get mixed up with someone like him?”

            “Just because he owns a speakeasy doesn’t mean he’s a bad person!”

            “Well, the NYPD isn’t going to release him for a long time, so I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore.”

            “What doesn’t really matter anymore?”

            “Your relationship with him.”

            “Maybe you’re right.”

            “Of course I am, now go get your bags. We leave for the airport in 30 minutes.”


January 22, 1924

7:00 A.M.

Chamonix, France

            “Holly, hurry up! We need to get to the rink while the ice is still fresh!” Yelled my new best friend, Rosie.

            “I’m coming, I’m coming!” I laughed back at her. We met for the first time last night and she’s already my best friend, she’s like the sister I’ve never had. Honestly, I can’t help wondering if I only like her so much because she reminds me of my mother. It’s not her appearance that reminds me of my mom–it’s her personality. The way that she laughs and smiles all the time, the way that she talks about God more than anything else; the similarities between Rosie and my mother are astounding.

            “Are you okay, Holly? You seem a little out of it?” Rosie’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts rather abruptly.

            “Yeah, I’m perfectly fine. I was just thinking a little too hard is all.”

            “Okay, well let’s get to practice then! After practice do you want to go shopping?”

            “Sure, but why?”

            “Well you need to get the right figure skating outfits! I was looking through your closet and if you wear those clothes the judges will think you’re a total flapper!

            “Well what’s so wrong with being a flapper?”

            “I didn’t mean it like that, I just want the judges to give you a fair score.”

            “Fine, I guess you have a point. We’ll go shopping tonight.”


             “Goodnight, Rosie! I’ll see you in the morning!” I call after her as she went into her hotel room.

             We have just gotten back from shopping and I’m completely exhausted so I decide to go to bed. As I lie here in the dark, I can’t help but to recall the last day I spent with my mother.

             We spent our Saturday morning in church and were on our way home. Mother had just finished telling me about how God will always protect us when we were suddenly hit by another car. I was fine, only a few bruises, but Mother died immediately on impact. How could God let that happen? We were driving home from church, driving home from praising Him, and He ripped my mother away from me. He didn’t protect us like Mother said He would. If not for Him, we wouldn’t have even needed protection because we wouldn’t have been at church. How could anyone love a God that takes a mother away from her child on the way home from church?

            I keep wrestling with these thoughts, just like I have my entire life, but now I contemplate why Rosie loves Him. I’ll have to ask her, because until I do, these thoughts won’t leave me alone.


January 23, 1924

7:45 A.M.

Chamonix, France

            I was sitting on a bench next to Rosie lacing up my skates when I decided to ask her about my thoughts from last night. “Rose, can I ask you something?”


            “Why do love God so much when you know all of the terrible things He does?”

            “God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, Holly. He gave us free will, we make our own decisions and sometimes those decisions hurt other people. He doesn’t sit up in heaven dictating everything that happens. Although God is capable of doing anything and stopping anything, sometimes He doesn’t because if He did He would be taking our freedom away.”

            “That makes sense, but I guess what I’m trying to figure out is why he would let my mother get killed in a car accident.”

            “Accidents happen because of sin and free will, God did everything he could to protect you and your mom while not taking away your mother’s free will or the other driver’s. Accidents happen, but God will comfort you if you let Him. In The Bible, it says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (New International Version, Psalm 9:9).

            “That ship has already sailed, I’ve pushed Him away far too many times for Him to still love me.”

            “No you haven’t. He still loves you and if you’re ready for Him to come back into your life, all you have to do is ask Him.”

            “Okay, thanks Rosie.”

            “You’re welcome, I’ll always be here if you ever need to talk.” Right after she said that, my father walked up and told me to stretch. After I finished stretching and warming up, I practiced the routine I would be performing in the upcoming week.


            “Next up we have Holly Pennrose of the United States of America competing in the ladies’ singles figure skating competition,” announced one of the commentators. As I step onto the ice and the music starts playing, I pray that God will calm my nerves and help me to land my moves perfectly. It seemed like in the blink of an eye my performance was over and I was standing in the middle of the rink while cheers were being given all around me. After the day’s events concluded, I was bombarded with questions from reporters. The most common question was, “How does it feel to be one of only eleven women out of the two hundred and fifty-eight contestants? You’re showing women all over the world that amazing things are possible regardless of gender. How does that make you feel?”

            “I’m blessed to be one of eleven,” was always my response and it always will be.


February 5, 1929

9:00 A.M.

New York

            As I sit here on my sofa, I reflect on how much the last five  years of my life have changed. It’s been exactly 5 years since I was awarded the gold metal for ladies’ singles figure skating in what the world now recognizes as the first Winter Olympics. “The ‘International Winter Sports Week,’ as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.” (History.com). Rosie won the silver metal in the ladies’ singles figure skating and when we returned to America we continued being best friends. James is still in prison and I’ve had no contact with him since I officially ended things between us in the summer of 1924. Lastly, I reflect on my father’s death last month, it was certainly the thing that changed me the most. I wish I had more to remember him by, but I know that every time I see my gold medal I will be reminded of the amazing coach and father he was. My father, Rosie, and God are the reasons I will always be known as one of eleven.


Gorman, F. Robert. The 20th Century. Salem Press, 2007. Print.

“U.S. Timeline – The 1920’s” americasbesthistory.com. 2018americasbesthistory.com. Web. 24                     January 2018.

“Figure Skating at the Olympic Games”. en.m.wikipedia.org. 2017en.m.wikipedia.org. Web. 24                 January 2018.

Works Cited

History.com Staff. “First Winter Olympics.” History.com. A+E Networks, 2010. Web. 12                               February 2018.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 12 February 2018.