I can’t let July gain too many more days before I write of my 50th anniversary of arriving in Hopkinsville, Ky. My mother is a native of Hopkinsville. She married a soldier from Camp Campbell in l943. My parents moved to Lansing, Michigan so that my father could attend college to study to be an engineer. Mother taught school in Lansing until her first son was born. Then she became a homemaker.
I was actually born in Detroit. Early in l960– my father pushed my mother to update her teacher’s certificate. We all sensed things between my parents were not good. By June l960– my father left. My mother had already made arrangements to take classes at Wayne State University that summer. She already had a babysitter lined up for us. I can’t imagine how she managed all of that. We didn’t have a car. Mother took the bus to her classes each day.
She did gain employment for the l960-l961 school year. My youngest brother wasn’t even old enough for kindergarten. So mother hired a sitter for him and she was at the house for us as well–when we arrived home from school. Later, I found out that one particular couple befriended my mother and loaned her the money to accomplish all of these feats. This couple had been friends with my parents for a very long time.
I have the actual letters of correspondence between my mother and grandmother about the pros and cons of moving back to Hopkinsville. In the end, mother decided that she needed to be where her family was living.
We were renting a house –so it made it a little easier to uproot. We left by train on the afternoon of July the 3rd, l961. A train ride from Detroit to Hopkinsville was a great adventure to four children. The stop in Chicago was especially fun. Mother let us have soda fountain treats and she bought us plenty of comic books.
Arriving in Hopkinsville, Ky about 8:00 a.m. on July the 4th–we were met at the train station by my mother’s brother and her sister. Grandmother was waiting for us with open arms. She had buckwheat pancakes already made up. We were to live with Grandmother in her part of the house until school started. Then we would move upstairs. There was a young married couple who had planned to leave that apartment the end of August.
Grandmother had endured a mastectomy the summer of l960. Now that I am 59 years old and a grandmother myself–I can’t imagine how she took us into her home. That was a very generous deed!
Grandmother made sure our lives were full of structure. She never allowed us to sleep in or be lazy. We always had to help with chores around her home. And church was a part of our education, too. Not only did we attend church on Sunday mornings–we also attended all the youth activities on Sunday and Wednesday nights, too.
Mother taught school at the old Westside School the first year. After that first year, she taught at the old Virginia St. school. That was just a few houses from our home. Her last year of teaching was at the brand new Holiday Elementary School.
Mother died of breast cancer in l985. Grandmother died when I was 25 years old of heart problems. I left home when I was 19 to attend Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, Al. I met my husband there. He was raised in Iowa. We moved back to Hopkinsville in l985. Hopkinsville has been a great place to raise our four children.
The structure and love my grandmother gave me as I was growing up has stayed with me my entire life. I’m not much of one for sleeping in. I always see my dear grandmother’s face. I feel her with me all the time. I keep pushing on in life because of the building blocks of love and leadership that she provided for me.
My brothers have often spoken of the same sense of grandmother’s influence. The four of us have done well in life. One brother is a college professor, another is a lawyer, another works for the state in Denver, Co. I have been a teacher/homemaker. Together all of our children have grown up to have multi-varied talented careers. My children love to hear about Grandmother B. They cherish her memory even though they never knew her.
I, too, have survived a mastecomy. I am a 4th generation breast cancer survivor.
Today the old train station is now the center of Art’s here in Hopkinsville. I drive by the old station several times a week. Always, the memories of arriving on that train in l961 flood my mind.
Thank you Grandmother B for taking such good care of us.
God bless each of you!