I was born on a Saturday evening, four days after Christmas at Twin City Hospital in Ft. Smith Arkansas. In those days there were no birthing centers, and fathers were not allowed in delivery rooms.
My mom said that she, being an avid reader, was deeply engrossed in a novel that she was reading and had felt some mild discomfort. My grandmother noticed that her "discomfort" was coming about every 5-6 minutes. Finally Grandma was the one who insisted that it was time to go to the hospital. So she put the novel down and was taken to the hospital. She already had a "hospital bag" packed since she knew that I was coming soon.
The hospital was Twin City Hospital, a small hospital built in 1942 to serve the African American community. The maternity ward of the hospital was in the back of the building and my mother always would point out that the ward was where the last window on the right, can be seen.
Twin City HospitalSource: Ft Smith Historical Society Journal
My father literally worked around the corner. He was a barber and had gone to work that day to the barbershop, as usual. When my mom was taken to the hospital, grandma sent word to him that my mother was in labor. As soon as he heard, he went around the corner to check on her, and was told that it would be a while. He returned to the barber shop--since fathers were not allowed. He decided to close the shop anyway, and returned to the hospital, and was then informed that he had a baby girl. within that short amount of time---a babe was born. Apparently my mom was closer to delivery than she had thought and so I arrived. Six pounds, eight ounces!
My older brother was only about 5 years old and he was quite upset that mommy was not at home, and was said to have been quite a tearful little boy as he did not understand why she was leaving home and going someplace to get a new baby. However apparently he was a bit enthralled when I arrived home and for several days would tell neighbors as well as strangers, from the postman to the milk man, quite excitedly, "I have a new baby sister." I am always amused by this story when I think of the older brother who would tease me, or tell me to go away, when I wanted to play with his toys.
However, childhood was a pleasant one growing up in a small town. My parents sheltered the two of us from a more hostile world in the American South, and many things from the outside world did not directly impact our lives for many years. Our childhood was a happy one, fully of laughter and love.
Thankfully though the innocence of childhood is gone, some of the old policies of the time have also gone. The building where I was born is now a business, and hospitals, serve everyone, with no regard to the color of the patients.
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