stories from the book
by James V. Browning
My Life at the Children's Home
After the death of my parents, I came to live at the Baptist Orphans Home in June of 1930.
My father had died in 1925 or 1926 and two older brothers before that. So it was Mother and I. Mother and I came home and found my Father dead.
We didn't have much material-wise, but Mother was a Christian and made up for that in giving a lot of love to me and helping other people.
She took in washing and ironing to help care for us. She would hang the laundry on the line to dry, then heat the irons on the stove, stand and iron, fold and put the clean laundry in a little wagon. I would then deliver it to the owners.
I recall the summer of 1929, the field truck from the Home coming to Hartshorne. It was announced on Sunday morning at First Baptist Church, the truck would be there on Wednesday evening (Prayer Meeting) to gather food. Mother and I went and took our small offering, she took some and gave me some to take as my part. A Mr. Hudson drove the truck. He brought some children to put on a program. Little did I realize that the next summer the Home would become my home.
Mother died in March of 1930. I stayed with a family until school was out, then entered the Home in June, 1930. It was a sad time for me. Although there were so many others, around 60 girls in the girls building, I felt so alone.
Mr. Hudson had left by this time and Mr. and Mrs. Dan Curb had moved onto campus. I felt their concern. Mr. Curb used to tease me that he was only three months older than I, because he started to work in March before I came in June. Then later, two of the greatest people who have meant so much to child care came to work - Mr. and Mrs. H. Truman Maxey, whom we all love and respect.
I am so thankful to God for providing me a home when I needed one. There aren't words to express what the Home meant to me and still does. God is good.
Later, in July of 1942, I went to work. First as an assistant housemother, then cook, worked in activities, and then the infirmary. Following that, I worked as a full-time housemother until I retired in 1982. Thirty-five years a housemother - there were many wonderful employees to work with. I'm afraid to name them almost, for fear I'll leave one out - Miss Mildred, Mrs. Stinson, Mr. Browning, the Pecks.
In 1979, at the University of Texas Annual Personnel of Homes for Children Workshop, Betty Bishop was presented an award for 37 years outstanding service to Oklahoma Baptist Children's Home.
In 1981, Donna Nigh, wife of the Oklahoma governor, presented Betty Bishop an award given by the Oklahoma Association for Children's Institutions and Agencies for “Outstanding Service as a Child Care Worker”.
During 40 years of work at the Baptist Children's Home, Betty Bishop shared her life and labors with more than 700 boys and girls in her care. Many still write or visit Betty, who has resided at the Baptist Retirement Center the past 14 years. She was employed in a part-time capacity at the Center for 13 years.
Betty, at 81 years of age, never misses Homecoming on the Children's Home campus. The alumni, former residents as children or staff members, gather on the Saturday nearest the 4th of July, on even-numbered years. Those alumni coming for the reunion from California, Washington, New York and a dozen other states know that Betty Bishop will be eagerly waiting to greet them.
Miss Betty Bishop, 88, passed away August 27, 2005. She was a child at the Baptist Orphans Home coming at age 13, then served over 40 years as a houseparent.