Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 
James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning


A Whole New World

Roy Dale Kelly


I was born in the country to a very poor invalid, but loving mother who was being raised by very kind and loving foster parents.

This is the story of Roy D. Kelly, born on Apr. 23, 1938, in Anadarko. Roy had two sisters, Bertha and Alberta Dodson. These children and their mother were being cared for by Mary and Jim Warren. They lived on a small sandhill farm in southwestern Oklahoma in the small community of Cogar, 30 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

Times were very hard for the family in the early 1940’s. The farm had no electricity, no cars, no indoor plumbing, no indoor running water. Water had to be drawn from a well nearby. Heating was done by a wood heater and cook stove.

My mother was a total invalid. I suffered from congenital cataracts and was almost blind. We had plenty of food to eat. We had adequate love and care from Mary and Jim.

The country was in the depths of World War II. In 1944, Jim Warren went to California to work in the shipyards. This left Mary to farm the sandhill farm and try to rear three children and take care of my invalid mother. This task was too much for her to accomplish. Consequently, we children came to the Baptist Children’s Home on Apr. 27, 1944. This was an emotional shock to all of us, especially to Bertha and myself.

When we arrived at the Children’s Home, I was placed in the Scott Cottage and my two sisters were placed in the girls’ cottage. My housemother was Miss Betty Bishop, who had also been reared in the Home. She was very stern, but, as I remember her, she was always fair to us. I was 6 years old. We attended University Heights Elementary school. I enjoyed school even though I was almost blind and had major difficulty reading, having to hold the books almost against my nose to read.

One of the greatest things that the Home did for me was to have surgery performed on my cataracts. I was provided new glasses which opened up a whole new world to me.

At the age of 10, I moved to the Martin Building. My new housemother was Miss Daisy Bruton. She, too, was a very stern, but fair lady. We attended Olivet Baptist Church every Sunday morning and evening.

The W.M.U. of First Baptist Church was my clothing sponsor and also provided a gift at Christmas time. I always looked forward to a two-week summer vacation and going to Hollis every summer.

When we reached high school, we attended John Marshall. Our 1956 graduating class from the Home consisted of myself and Jim Wilson, who was my close friend. He ran on the track team with me.

When I was about 16, I moved out to the Dairy Farm on 150th and Penn. I learned about farming and the Dairy operation. The people in charge of the Dairy were Mr. and Mrs. Russell Young. They were fine people, who cared a lot about us boys: Leroy Nunn, Don Smith, Burl Nunn and myself.

I gained much in self-confidence and hard work. In fact, I decided to make dairying my life profession. Thanks to Mr. James Browning, I was able to get a job at Oklahoma A & M College milking cows at the dairy. I attended college for a couple of years, then met and married Barbara Hayes from eastern Oklahoma.

We moved to Seiling, where I milked cows for a year. Our first child, Roy, Jr., was born at Seiling. We moved back to Oklahoma City. I was employed at Steffens Dairy in Norman. I worked the night shift for 7 years. Our daughter, Elizabeth Ann, was added to our family.

I decided to return to college, enrolling at Central State. After receiving my B.A. degree in Education, I started a teaching career which has lasted 30 years. After a few years of teaching, I completed a Masters in Education at Central State. I was surprised and pleased when Mr. Browning and Dr. Truman Maxey attended my commencement exercises.

I have continued my post-graduate studies toward a doctorate at Oklahoma State University.

While serving as a teacher, I have found opportunity to work closely with young people through coaching wrestling and track for some 20 years. During summers, I have coached a summer AAU track team and taken them to competitions all over the U.S. This gave me a great deal of satisfaction. It seemed to provide me opportunities for counseling and guidance for many young men who needed help as I once did. I’ll always be grateful for influential people in my young life—such people as Dr. Maxey, Mr. Browning, Edith Stinson, Mildred Gilliam, Russell Young and others too numerous to mention here.

In conclusion, I will say, to me the Children’s Home was not just a place to provide custodial care for children, but it was, in every sense, a true home.

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