Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

The Only Home I Ever Had

Eugene Ray

My sister, Modena, and I came to the Children’s Home in about 1931. Mr. Howard was managing the home at that time. We started to school in the first grade or kindergarten. On our first day, we were given a bath and a hair cut. We were housed in the large north building on the second or third floor. It was a sort of nursery. We slept in baby beds.

After I was a little older, I was assigned to the boys’ dorm in the east building. We went to church in the chapel above the dining room. When Truman Maxey came to the Home, he conducted the services. That’s when I first decided to be baptized and become a Christian.

Truman was a very persuasive man, also very patient. When we backslid, depending on the transgression, he would use a fitting penalty which could be applied anywhere from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. I never felt any resentment toward Truman for the way I was treated. He treated everyone the same and he was highly respected and loved. I have thanked God many times for Alice and Truman Maxey.

When Alice and Truman came to the Orphanage, it was a dawning of a new day in all our lives. The training and the teaching I received molded my character and help me for all of my life.

I never knew my mother or father. Modene and I were babies when our parents died. We were born in the far southeastern part of the state in McCurtain County. My dad was a coal miner; he was killed in a coal-mine blast and my mother died about a year later. Two other children were born in the same place, J. B. and Burrell Sprouse. Their dad was also a coal miner.

Modene and I lived with an aunt for some time, during which time the Depression was real bad. People were having a hard time just trying to provide food and shelter. There were four children in our family. Modene and I did not know we had siblings until we were about 17 years old. Modene began the job of trying to locate them. At this time, I was at a farm north of the city. My older sister died at age 43 from cancer. I got to see her many times and I loved her so very much.

By the time we located our brother, we were at war with Germany and he was a sergeant stationed in England. I never got to see him. His group landed at Omaha Beach and fought across France, Belgium and Germany. He was killed by a German sniper in the last major battle of the war. I did go visit his step-parents and corresponded with them until their deaths.

I also visited and wrote to my sister’s step-mother for as long as she lived. My brother’s name was Alex, my sister’s Wanda Louise.

It has not been painful for me to write about my life at the Home. The Orphan’s Home was my home, the only real home I ever had. If I had my life to live over again and I had a choice, I would choose the Orphan’s Home over any other home.

The Baptists of the state of Oklahoma are the greatest people in the world. I used to travel over the state with Bro. Dan Curb. It was a great experience and a chance to meet the nicest people in Oklahoma. They came from all walks of life and all types of churches. And they loved their Children’s Home and their children, and they were generous in all things. They always gave, although at times it was difficult, but they opened up their hearts and gave willingly and lovingly. To them I will always be most grateful. I can still see their faces, the poorest reaching out to us every time we came to their church. I will always cherish the Baptists of Oklahoma.

I will also remember the children I grew up with. We are bonded together as brothers and sisters. I love and cherish every one of them.

I am and will always be a Baptist; I’ve gone to the same church for more than 40 years.

We have a Baptist Orphanage just down the street from where we live. We’ve helped to support it through our church. It is run and operated much like the one in Oklahoma City. As a matter of fact, Truman visited Spring Meadows many years ago to advise.

I cannot begin to mention all the Home has meant to me. Nor all the people that helped me on my way.

My health started failing and I was forced to quit work at age 55, but I sure don’t have any complaints. I am 71 years old and still doing well. A lot of people never live to see 70.

I am amazed at Truman and Alice Maxey. They have done an amazing job in helping so many people. I never went to Truman with a problem and heard him say, “I don’t know.” He always had an answer. Look at his record of dealing with children. There are other people that have done a good job, but Alice and Truman are one of a kind.

As I said, I loved the Home, the life I lived, and the people I met along the way. You, Mr. Browning, are one of those people. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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