Following a star

My mother was always on the move, every since I was a child. She was a “feminst” before it became popular and trendy. She was known for breaking the rules, she drove  a truck on the “flight line” at Schilling Airbase in the sixties. She cleaned houses and took me with her sometimes. She drove a car back in the fifties and took us all over Salina, Kansas. We drank Pepsi back in the daze and ate little stinky hamburgers from Cozy Inn cafe.  We went to the movies and sat in the balcony and laughed and cried.  She was second to the oldest, so one of my aunts was usually with us. They took care of us while my Mom and dad worked. I remember my Aunt Jackie, calling me her baby and teaching me to read and write. I remember when Mom took me to clean homes with her. She did inform everyone that I would not be cleaning houses all my life, because I was going to college. I ironed handkerchiefs and folded them for my duties. I was allowed to have lunch and talk with one of the children, who happened to my age. I remember him well, he was very nice and later we had classes together in high school. He never mentioned that he remembered meeting me while my Mom cleaned his house. He barely acknowledged I existed and I was recripical.  We also competed in classes and I usually won. It was just part of following a star who was flying across my life. I was college bound come hell or high water. Nothing would stand in my way, including very devious older man who wanted to marry me.

I remember meeting the Deacon at our church and he was charming. He was almost ten years older than me, but he was such a nice guy. He knew the Bible backwards and forward and he was also, a lying, cheating, rapist.  I did not have a clue, I was flattered, as a sixteen year old. We went to the movies, church, and parties.  He never made any of us suspect he was a evil man. He never drank any alcohol around me. He was never abusive, but he was controlling. He separated me from my high school friends, just like a predator wolf does to the “sheep” when is ready to slaughter one. He “raped” me  on Easter Sunday between church services. It was brutal, as I was a virgin. I blamed myself for trusting him and wearing a pretty blue suit, I had bought for Easter Sunday. He thought this would be enough for my parents to consent for me to marry him. He had other grown women he drank and had sex with. He even raped another young girl and bragged about it to me.

I told my folks later on and they debated pressing charges and decided it would be too much for me. My Mother did report him to Air Force and he was transferred. My mother had told him, nothing would stop me from going to college and she meant this. I was not  so sure and I gave up many times. She never did, even though we had no money and every bank told her they would not loan her any money.  We both had many disagreements about my potentials. She never gave up on me. I was “hooked” to a star. I did graduate from high school in 1961 and left for college in the fall. I had worked and saved enough money to pay for the first semester, second semester was in God’s hands” Mama said. She said the “Lord would make a way” and I thought, God don’t care about me. I was wrong and Mom was right.

She sent me “care packages” her money she should have been paying bills with. I graduated in four years and got married to another abusive man. It would last for five years. He hated Mom and did everything he could to “separate” me from Mom. It didn’t work and I divorced and  moved back to Kansas to live with mom and Dad on Eighth st with my three year old son. I got a job substituting at my old school, Hawthorne.  I stayed there for two years, earning  $400 a month. I bought myself and my son a neat 1969 Cougar with a vinyl top. It was lime green and black. It had no power steering but I ❤️ it because it looked so cool.

It was the first car I ever owned by myself. I could spend my money without getting approval. I fixed up our old house and lived my life to the fullest. Two years later, I met a tall, handsome soldier with blue eyes and he was a ” brother” a black man who loved me enough to go the Eisenhower Presidential library on our first date after church. We married in June 1971 and was transferred to 🇩🇪.

I was attending Emporia State University working toward a Masters in Library Science in the summers between teaching. I took my son with me and he went to classes too. He said he would attend college and he did 13 years later and graduated too. I did not finish mine for four years later  in Alabama where we were stationed. I was selected to be a Kellog Fellow that paid  for my schooling and gave me a $400 stipend that I saved. I graduated in 1975 and got a job teaching Kindergarten and preschool in Salina. I was back at Hawthorne and later with the help of the Principal, Eva Velharticky, I was hired as the first “African American” library media specialist. I would stay there teaching for 10 years and with the money we saved from my Fellowship, we bought a new house on the South side of town on Linda Lane. I was blessed to be the owner of new house in a part of town we had never been able to live in growing up black and poor in Salina. My mother was proud and she had opened a daycare on the North end, Martin Luther King Child Care Center in 1973.  She never looked back. She kept rising and started a federally funded food program for children in daycares in Central Kansas and it was a first in Kansas. She drove throughout  central Kansas helping folks who had daycares in their homes by providing  nutitrious meals. She retired at age 82. She  received many awards for her works. She never stopped dreaming. She never let me stop either. Her name is on one the buildings, ” Geraldine Briscoe Child Development center” fitting for a star. I am so glad God hitched me to a ⭐️. ” and still I rise” Maya wrote.


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