Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning


Frances H. Golden

I was 14 years and 11 months old when I came to Oklahoma Baptist Orphan’s Home. It was winter’s ending and spring’s beginning. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, that is exactly the way my life evolved from my placement in the Home.

My childhood years with my parents had been happy ones. The first 10 years of my life was lived in the country on a 60-acre agricultural farm. These I remember as predominately happy years. My dad’s parents lived nearby. My grandfather was a lay-minister in our little country church. My grandmother was a health guru, who insisted I take cod liver oil, because I was so skinny. I was healthy as I walked five miles to a one-room country school.

World War II started while we lived on the farm. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Dad decided to move to town. He had mortgaged our farm to his brother. This was the first of several moves. My parents separated and divorced. It was an emotional trauma for all of us. Dad decided to join the armed services. Our placement in the Baptist Orphan’s Home was a decision of his. He had ceased attending church regularly, but in his tough, blustering way he never ceased believing in God and God’s miracles. He believed in the Oklahoma Baptist Child Care program and that it was the best residence for me, my brothers and sisters. I don't know whether our circumstances were unusual in our being accepted in the Home since our parents were living. Dad said the Children’s Home made exceptions for some, and we were the exception.

I was a pretty typical teenager, defiant, rebellious and preoccupied with self. I definitely needed boundaries established and protection from the world. My emotions were high, but my basic personality was one of wanting to please and move forward. I was eager to learn. I accepted the Home program and fell into its routine.

I learned discipline by fulfilling campus job assignments. While at the Home, I worked as a nanny for the superintendent. I loved the positive home environment at Mr. & Mrs. Maxey’s home and the interaction of the family. I was treated as a family equal, however, a bad reaction to a TB test resulted in my being transferred from their home. I was assigned office duty. This job I shared with Jack Ballew whose parents were deceased missionaries. Jack was a classical pianist. Through his playing, I learned to appreciate the piano and the music so much, I agreed to do his duties so he could play during work. I especially remember Chopin’s Polonaise. Every now and then, we were reprimanded for too much play...what fun musical times we had together.

When on kitchen duty, I had to make yeast bread which required getting up very early. I wasn’t too keen on this, but preferred bread making to working in the kitchen, even though I had to do a little of this, too. I learned the art of serving by working in the dining room. We had a common dining hall that was shared with the boys--boys on one side and girls on the other. On laundry duty, I learned to use the mangle and iron. The patience of the laundry supervisor, I’ll never forget, together with the cook, who tried to teach me to knead dough. We had a lot of laughs over that dough.

While this was institutional living, great care and thought had been given to make our daily living as family-oriented as possible. I knew someone would always be there for me. My housemother was kind and fair. She always followed through if rules were broken. I knew what to expect, and never encountered prejudice of race, color or religion. Foul language was unheard and slang was forbidden.

The employees were all shapes, sizes and personalities. The one thing they shared in common was interest in our welfare and a warm, loving Christian spirit, which I am sure was often tested. I can remember several occasions.

Edith Grace Stinson, who became my surrogate mother, had the greatest lasting impact on my teen life. It was she for whom I had the deepest love and respect. I learned many valuable lessons on life from this beautiful lady. I still think of her saying, “Frances, remember every action has a consequence. Think about this when you make a decision. Be prepared to accept the consequences whether they be good or bad.”

Ethics and morals were learned and reinforced by daily devotionals based on God’s word and teachings. Church attendance every Sunday was part of our lives. High standards were encouraged by good role models.

I wish all children could grow up in this positive environment where every effort is based on what is best for the child or teenager. Every help was given to us for our development physically, mentally, and spiritually.

  • Continued...

    To any child fortunate enough to be in the Home: Seize the moment, dwell on the opportunities being given you. You may not think so, but you are being given a program that is designed for your greatest growth and guided by adults who are trained to implement the opportunities.

    It was in this secure, consistent environment of daily knowing what to expect that I began to mature and blossom. I had many opportunities for personal growth and am very thankful for the Home that made this possible. The dedicated staff, housemothers and fathers are all to be applauded for their ongoing devotion to children and teenagers. I know their dedication and influence changed my life.

    I was married after completing my third year of college, to a medical doctor whom I had dated three and one-half years. When he was taking his psychiatric residency, I returned to school for my teaching credentials. We had a beautiful daughter. After nine years of marriage, he decided he wanted to date other women. Needless to say, I was shocked and devastated. We eventually divorced.

    I was single four and one-half years. I knew I wanted to remarry, but I asked the Lord to send me the man He wanted in my life. I met and married the “love of my life.” His family loved and accepted us. We have been married 31 years. He is a businessman, entrepreneur who gives of self, time and money to our community. He is a generous, loving man. I thank God for him daily. We have a wonderful Christian life and family. Together we have eight grandchildren, two daughters, one son-in-law, and two great-grandchildren.

    I, too, have been fortunate in being in a position, since arriving in San Diego, to contribute to my community and church.

    Life isn’t easy. It requires daily commitment to live our best. I have found God is faithful and just, His promises can be relied on, it’s His timing, not ours. His requirements are faith, trust and patience. I know, as I’ve been there. My greatest peace and happiness is found in His Word and my family.

    Life is a lifelong journey of learning. I’m in my 68th year and look forward to many more. I will learn conversational Spanish this year. I’ve learned the sooner one jumps on the train or plane, or goal, the sooner you will get where you wish to be.

    “Thank you.” Two words cannot convey my appreciation for the love, care and support that was provided me as a teenager, but “thank you” will have to do.

    I am thankful the Home existed for me, and I pray that it will continue to “be there” for those in need now and in the future.

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