This story is of a woman who has lived some seventy or more years in the same neighborhood. A woman who was able to raise three children through factory work. This woman who raised her children through the values of the bible that she clung to for strength daily. I am from a small town in Montgomery County called Crestmont.
She shared that it was uncomfortable for her and her family during her childhood years. She shared that she was raised by a single mother and shared their three-room shack with seven siblings. The interviewee was open to sharing the many chores expected by her and her brothers and sisters. She shared that individuals would laugh at how poor they were growing up. Sharing that the children walked to the creek to draw water for cooking, bathing, and for odd chores daily. She dropped her head when speaking of her mother whom she believed was extremely strict and embarrassing to be around. Sharing about a time when she and her siblings asked to go to a school dance one day. She shared that her mother marched them while attached to a string and waiting outside for them to return the walk home together. Ms. X shared that she was placed in a class that housed varies grade level children. She spoke of having a hard time understanding her school work when she was young.
Crestmont, as shared by the interviewee, was a small town at the bottom of a hill. This town was at the south end of a trash dumpsite. The town had a vast amount of individual African Americans business owners; real estate, general stores, seamstress and tailors, bakers, plumbers, and mechanics. This town that she felt invisible in was fruitful of people who made an incredible situation work. Everyone knew each other in this town and safety was the job of the entire town for the elders and the children. When sharing her mothershe stated that she was an identical look-alike of her mother. Sharing that her mother ruled with an iron fist. Her mother, the main provider, had her favorites and she was not one of them. She shared that her mother often embarrassed the children and drank alcohol quite frequently. Ms. X shared that her mother was adopted by a family. Sharing that her mother’s mother was killed by her husband. She stated that she could only remember her grandfather or the man who had raised her mother. Smiling when she spoke of him being an Italian man who could really make pasta dishes. Her father had come to town and dated her mother for a short moment and then was off to another woman. She didn’t see much of him until she had become of age. Even then she didn’t find him to be of any value so the two had never really developed a relationship.
Mr. R was the one who she spoke of as saving her life. She shared that he was the most consistent person that had been in her life. He valued their friendship and treated her like a person. She spoke of how he was always there to assist her through her struggles. He never doubted nor spoke negatively of her behind closed doors or in public. She valued his friendship because she had never had this even growing up with so many siblings.
She spoke of dropping out of school in her senior year. She had two options: to admit she had been smoking in the bathroom or to be expelled. She chose to be expelled because, as she stated it, I didn’t smoke then and I have never smoked a cigarette in my entire life. I asked would she have done it differently to at least graduate her senior year of high school and she replied,” no”.
Ms. X has been able to outlive mostly all of her siblings. Remaining from her immediate family is her closest sister and her. She still has card games and cookouts on her front lawn. She invites the community to a feast once a year. They call her mom in her neighborhood, for she has watched many children into adulthood and has been the place for a reason for those on hard times.