Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

Remembering Mom and Pop Maxey

J.B. Marr

I entered the Home in September, 1927, shortly before my 7th birthday. Both parents had died and I, like my two sisters (one younger and one older), had been sent to live with separate aunts and uncles. Hard times coupled with the old age of the couple I was living with prompted the decision to place me in the Baptist Orphan’s Home.

The Home at that time was a complex of dormitory and utility buildings surrounded by horse and cow lots, pig pens, chicken yards, orchards, pastures, and cultivated fields—in short, a farm home. The bulk of the Home’s farm land was located about 5 miles east of the Home where we raised corn, alfalfa, and various garden crops, which helped supply the needs of the Home.

As on any farm, there were many regular chores to be done. Except for the very young, each of us had an assigned responsibility in the everyday functioning of the Home. The older boys and girls did the cooking, milking, laundry, and the heavier farm work, while the younger group did the house cleaning, dishwashing, fed the farm animals, and helped with the maintenance of the grounds. Individual job assignments were changed every 30 to 60 days—this helped to broaden our experience base.

We attended public school in Oklahoma City and Britton. In those days, our “school bus” was a one and one-half ton truck with open sideboards. It would haul a large number of school children, but during inclement weather, it sometimes got a bit chilly and/or a bit wet.

Life in the Home was not all work and schooling. We had our fair share of recreation, which consisted of baseball, football, soccer, basketball, tin-can shinny, marbles, table tennis, and other games which we concocted. It wasn’t difficult to find something to do with our leisure time; what one couldn’t think of to do, another would. Occasionally, we would be privileged to attend (by truck load) one of the downtown movie theaters. Living only one-half mile from Belle Isle Lake and Creek, we also enjoyed some fishing and swimming.

Our spiritual life was also well nurtured. Every Sunday we attended Sunday School and church in the morning, and B.Y.P.U. and church in the evening. Wednesday evenings were always reserved for prayer meeting. Our religious meetings were held in the Chapel, located over the main dining room and kitchen. Most of the preaching was done by the Home manager or superintendent, however, on occasions, the pastor from one of the Oklahoma City churches spoke to us.

As in any good family, large or small, a strong bond of unity exists among the members. This feeling was exceptionally strong among the Home children.

In 1935, a young Baptist preacher, with his beautiful wife and infant first-born son, came to work in the Home. They had come from a small church in the Oklahoma Panhandle area. They were properly introduced to us as Reverend and Mrs. H. T. Maxey. From the beginning, we all had great love and admiration for them. Within a short time, they were affectionately addressed as “Mom” and “Pop” Maxey. They were meant for children—they cared and they showed it. Their counsel and guidance provided the kind of direction which inspired our best efforts.

I am sure Pop was then, as he is now, a “Man’s Man,” however, I am more certain that he was also a “Child’s Man.” I recall the many great times we had with Pop while he was scout master of our school troop. There were many overnight campouts, hikes, wiener roasts, etc. Pop also loved to hunt, and on many occasions, we were privileged to accompany him.

In addition to rearing her family and helping with the Home children, Mom was very active in various church groups. She was busy most of the time and appeared to enjoy every moment. She displayed a kind and cheerful attitude which was highly contagious. She was a happy person. It was not possible to feel despondent in her presence. With all her activities, Mom was never too busy to help with our personal problems. She had a way of making mole hills from seemingly mountainous problems.

Mom didn’t drive a car at this time and when Pop was not available to drive her, one of the older Home boys did the driving. As soon as I was old enough, I obtained a driver’s license and eventually worked into driving for Mom. This was a great job which I enjoyed tremendously. Mom was never a back-seat driver. Not once do I recall her telling me how or how not to drive. (Mom is an outstanding driver now.)

I shall never forget an event that occurred at the end of my Senior year in the Home. As I was the only boy in our high school graduating class, Pop offered me the use of his family car to take my date to the prom. I had mixed emotions about taking Pop’s car out. I was thrilled by the offer, but more so by Pop’s implied trust in me. I was apprehensive, however, that something just might happen that would result in damage to his car. I recall the tinge of relief I felt that night after I had it back safely in the garage.

I officially left the Home in the Spring of 1939, however, it will always be considered my home. I am aware that I missed something special in not being reared by my parents, but I also know that I gained something very special from being reared in the Home.

I went to work in Indiana, doing oil field work. I came back to Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Baptist University for two years where I met my wife, Elna. We were married in 1945 at the Baptist Children’s Home in Oklahoma City, with Reverend Maxey officiating.

Elna and I have reared two sons—James Michael and David Richard who have given us five lovely granddaughters.

I served in the Navy for 4½ years as a Lt. J.G. Upon discharge, I came home and attended Oklahoma University where I attained a degree in Geology.

Upon graduation, I went to work for Phillips Petroleum Company and served in many assignments. After 34 years of service with the company, I retired in 1965. Elna and I now make our home in Colorado.

I am ever grateful to the Baptists of Oklahoma for providing the Baptist Children’s Home. I am especially grateful to Dr. & Mrs. Maxey for being such a wonderful Mom and Pop.

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