Remember Where You Came From

“You can never forget who you are.”

Transcript for Remember Where You Came From

I say to my grandkids all the time, you can never forget who you are, but you have to remember where you come from.

You know what the WPA is? It was a work program that Roosevelt set up for people because it was during the Depression. I always tell everyone I was a depression baby because I was born in 1929. My mother was a trained welder. They sent her to school. She had certificates and everything. She thought when she came here, she would go to the mill and get a job. They would not hire her. The only job she would be able to get would be a job as a cook or a cleaning. She said, no thank you. And that’s when she took the two jobs, cleaning houses and waitressing. I counted one time, I sat there and watched her, she took orders from five tables. When she came back, not one person got the wrong drink, or the wrong dish. She went up this high for me when I saw her do that cuz I was sitting there wondering, “How do you remember them?” She said, “You do it, you just learn how to do it, that’s all.” I often wondered how far she would have gone if she had had the opportunities that are open for us now. No telling where she would have went.

I had a brother. He was born here in Gary. As we got older, I had to babysit him naturally. I was at home, and there was a young man that would always come by which I did not like, period. I said, “Billy, tell him I’m not at home.” And I went in the bedroom and stood with the door open. And he opens the door, and what does he say, “She said to tell you she’s not at home.” Oh, I was ready to kill him. So I had to go out shamefaced and all and say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going anywhere, I’m babysitting, period.”

Whatever I learned to do in school, like if it was sewing or cooking something to cook, I had to come home and teach him. His rule was if he was in carpenter shop or any other shop that I couldn’t do, he had to come home and teach me. And my aunt was a good cook, she made the best lemon pie in the world. And I could never make that lemon pie. He comes home one day cuz he was in the service. I said, “I sure wish I could have one of Aunt Mamie’s pies.” And he said, “Which one you talking about, Bea?” And I said, “I’m talking about that lemon pie, you know, the one with that thick meringue on it.” And she did not use an egg beater to make that meringue, she used a fork. He goes in the kitchen–he didn’t tell me what he was doing–and he went in there and he made that pie. I’ve been trying to make that lemon pie for I don’t know how long and how come you got to make it?” And he laughed and he hugged me. He said, “Because I paid attention and you didn’t.” Yeah, my brother and I were good friends.

I was sorry when he passed. He was in the Vietnamese War, and he got sprayed with that agent orange. And so he came when he came home, he wasn’t feeling like he usually did. I called and told him that I was going to come to see him because he was sick, and he said, “Okay.” And the nurse said, “I’m holding the phone so he can talk to you, okay?” I said, “Okay.” And when I got there, he had already passed. But yeah I lost both of them. My brother and my mother.

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