The Lord has to be good after what I’ve been through. He brought me and kept me.
My mother died on August 3, 1925, at 33 years old. I was six. After that, my father put one of my sisters, two of my brothers and myself in the Bessie Allen Orphanage at 6th and Walnut in Louisville, Ky. I stayed there until I was 16 years old. It’s where I learned to do things. The Sisters there taught me to read, organize myself and become productive… it made me smart. I stayed there until I was 16 years old. Then I was placed at Good Shepherd at 8th and Walnut, also in Louisville. It was a home for older children run by Good Shepherd Sisters. The Mother Superior there was a nun named Sister Isabelle. She had a big influence on me. She would see to the priest… make sure everything was organized and ready for Mass; serve the priest his meals and other things. I was her helper. She and I formed a good relationship. She taught me things, and I listened to her. I was
still a little colored child but worked side-by-side with the sister that was in charge. Looking back, I guess she saw something in me. Thank God she did, because times were horrible for coloreds; Jim Crowe and whatnot, let alone an orphaned colored child.
When I graduated from high school at 17, I was put out to day work. My first job was at the
Netkims family. They lived at 1735 Harvard Dr. (Louisville). They had three children. I cooked, cleaned and took care of them for $8.00 per week.
One day on my way home from work, I met a couple at the bus stop that was from the place that I was born, Richmond, Ky. I talked with them, told them about my background. Praise God, they knew my people and my story. I just knew that the Lord was looking after me. I had developed a belief and a trust that in spite of my circumstances, everything was going to be all right.
I went back to Good Shepherd, packed my bags and left with those strangers. Folks back then; you could trust them. They took me to my Aunt Lee’s house. My mother’s sister! I had never met her, and she had never met me, but she took me in and I experienced the love and security of a family for the first time in my life. It gives me chills to think of it.
I didn’t stay with Aunt Lee but a few weeks; because she knew that my oldest sister lived in Cincinnati. When Aunt Lee called my sister, she came to Richmond and got me. I arrived in Cincinnati in January 1937, smack dead in the middle of the great flood and the great depression.
I was delighted to be with my sister, so I settled into life in Cincinnati. I went to church at Holy Trinity. I found out that Sister Isabelle lived in Cincinnati, working at Girls Town in Finneytown. My soon-to be husband and I went to see her. She had really been my mother-figure growing up and I loved her. She told me to go see Father Busemeyer at St. Joseph, so I did.
I met Father Busemeyer and found him to be the first white person I had ever met to treat everyone equally. It didn’t matter to him what color you were, he was a fair man. I joined St. Joseph Catholic Church and have been a member ever since.
Before I was married, Father Busemeyer checked my husband out and gave the OK for the marriage. We raised three children together.
My husband owned a fruit and vegetable stand on the Findley Market. I worked at Children’s Hospital 33 years and eight months preparing formula and delivering it to the infant ward. Ain’t God good? I learned that small kindnesses and generosity means everything. The Sisters that took care of me as a child, raised me in the church at the orphanage, and the way I was reunited with my family is a sure sign of the grace of God. I am blessed to live this long, and my faith sustains me.