Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Different View

Over the years I have had people ask me aren't you mad at being placed in the children's home? This question puzzled me. I have always believed my dad loved my brother and I with all his heart and he did not make the decision easily. He went to a number of people he thought might be able to help and in the end decided this was the best option. There were things about the children's home that could have been better, however, there were a number of positive experiences that I treasure.

Often times one does not control a situation, however, one always has the choice of how they will remember the experience and take away from it something positive. Life is good.

From Regina Brett "It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First hair cut

Moving to the Children's home was actually a great improvement over our previous living situation. We now were in a dependable environment, had a clean bed to sleep in, clean cloths, three well prepared meals a day and a routine to our daily activities. The children's home was pretty much self sustaining. There was an on site dairy where the older boys milked the cows at 4am and again at 4pm. The milk was brought to the kitchen to be separated and pasteurized. We had fresh whole milk and cream with homemade butter. The orphanage also had pens with pigs so we had fresh bacon, ham, sausage and lard. There was a chicken coup with lots of chickens that provided fresh farm eggs. Sister D who ran the kitchen made homemade bread every other day. I have never tasted bread that could begin to compare with what Sister D made. The experience at the children's home taught me many life lessons.

One experience was the incident with the hair. I had long, stringy, straight blond hair. I barely would take the time to run a comb through the tangled locks much less fix it. Besides I had no idea how to fix it, I was only eight. My mother sometimes would comb and put my hair in metal curlers. Anyway, Sister JL one day told me to curl my hair. Not accustom to following directions or trying to figure out what was meant, decided I had other things to do. I found a curler and wound the ends of my hair around the one curler. Later that afternoon I took the curler out and sort of combed my hair. I soon learned that was not what was expected. Sister JL enlisted the assistance of two other girls, sat me on a stool and proceeded to cut my hair. I can remember crying "Don't cut my hair. (hiccup) My mom won't know me". All the while big alligator tears rolling down my cheeks. The next weekend when dad visited he asked who cut my hair I meekly said Sister JL. I didn't want him to be disappointed that I had not done what Sister JL had instructed me to do. I think he told me my hair looked cute. After that I was more than happy with the hair cut, lot less fuss.

Self reliance was expected, either figure out what the expectation was or there were swift consequences.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lesson of Consequences

Describing the building, on the first floor when looking down the corridor to the north there were two sitting parlors one on each side of the hall. They were decorated with beautiful couches, chairs and tables. This is where relatives and visitors would come and wait for who ever had been summoned. At the end of the hall was a door. Behind that door was the nursery. Children that were not old enough to attend kindergarten lived in that wing. My Brother who was only 4 was settled in with that group. The nursery had a dormitory where the children slept, a lavatory with toilets and sinks and then a large room where there were toys for the children and activities. I would go every day to see my brother until he was old enough to be moved to the boys' living quarters.

There was a staircase just off the door to the nursery that lead to the second floor. Looking down the opposite end of the hall from the nursery door past the entrance, Father M's office was on one side, the elevator was across from his office, there was a stairwell next to the elevator, continuing down the corridor there was a sunlit connecting hallway that lead to the dining rooms. Across from this turn in the hallway was the living quarters for Father M.

I was moved to the second floor girls living quarters, that was right above the nursery. Those accommodations included two dormitories that held ten to twelve single beds each, with the separate sleeping room for the sister in between the dorms. There was a small window that connected the dorms to the sister's sleeping quarters, so the girls could be checked on during the night. There was a large lavatory that had a row of sinks five on each side with a row of toilets that had curtains to provide privacy. I remember two deep claw footed bathtubs that were used on Saturdays for girls to bathe. The lavatory had lockers and each girl was assigned a locker in which to store her toiletries. There was a narrow room in which everyone's clothing was stored on shelves labeled with the person's name. The clothing room was kept locked and each night we would be given an outfit to hang in the locker to wear the next day.

When dad had left to go back to Casper, I was given a tour of the second floor girls quarters. The place was huge. I was assigned a bed and a locker.

One of the first nights there I was having a tough time getting settled down after being directed to go to bed. I got up to go to the bathroom, I got caught by Sister JL and she told me to go back to bed. I couldn't sleep so I got up to get a drink of water. I was caught again and this time she was going to escort me back to bed. Well, when she went to grab me, I stepped out of reach. I ran into the lavatory and circled the row of sinks. I was small, pretty quick and she was not able to catch me. I was thinking this was pretty funny and started laughing. We must have ran around the sinks two or three times, all the while I'm laughing thinking this is pretty funny, she can't catch me. Big mistake. Sister JL enlisted the help of two of the older bigger girls, they cornered and caught me. I had my first taste of consequences. I learned that a hand broom could be used for more than sweeping up dirt.

I was lonely, separated from my brother, didn't know anyone, was unaccustomed to having a schedule, unaccustomed to being disciplined and pretty sad. I cried myself to sleep that night but was determined Sister JL wasn't going to get the best of me. That was one of many lessons I was to learn.