Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

James Browning

stories from the book
by James V. Browning

Finding Someone Who Cared

Ruby Woolverton

My name is Ruby Woolverton. 

I was born on January 18, 1964, in Drumright, to Bonnie and Sam Pelfrey. I have an older brother, Sam Jr. (Pete), and after me there is Henry (Mutt), Lorrie and Brenda.

My parents were alcoholics as far back as I can remember. I remember my daddy working and trying to provide for us, but my mom was so jealous that she didn’t even trust him to have a job. She was happy with him lying around drunk all day. I guess my daddy finally got to a point where he just gave up. I do know that if anyone cared about us, it was he. I don’t recall my mother ever saying that she loved us or ever reading a book to us at bedtime. We never got tucked in for bed. Most of the time we were having to lie down under the tables in beer joints because my parents were too drunk to leave. There must have been a lot of those nights because I can close my eyes and go right to the place and that horrible smell! I don’t guess I will ever forget. To us, that was home. Because there were so many times that we did not have a place to call home, we lived in a tent on the Washita River. One day my mom got so mad at my daddy that she set the tent on fire with him and Brenda in it. Thank God he woke up, and they got out. I was so scared. We lost a mother dog with puppies in the fire. Guess where we lived next—under a bridge in Lindsay. We hardly ever had anything to eat or clothes to wear. I don’t think it bothered us as much then as it does now, when I think back to how a mother could be so cruel to her own family. 

I remember one day, Lorrie and Brenda were missing. We thought they had drowned, but daddy found them around the corner of the river out in the water on a bunch of logs. He was scared to death that he wasn’t going to make it over to them. He really got onto mom. There was so much fighting and fussing all the time. She would get beat up so that that we would have to take care of her instead of her caring for us. One time, she got daddy so drunk that he passed out in the back of a truck. She drove it out in the country, beat him up and threw him out of the truck. I thought I would never see him again, but when he sobered up, he came back and she got it from him again. I wondered how people could live like this.

A few nights before we went to the Baptist Home, I remember us five kids having to sleep in the jail cell in Lindsay because both parents were locked up, it was late and we had nowhere else to go. 

We were finally taken out of all that mess. I missed my daddy so much. I can’t remember who put us into the Baptist Home. But the day we got there, I thought about how much I would miss my mom and dad. We were scared leaving the only life we knew. I remember that everyone was so nice. I had new clothes to wear. I gave up on the woman who was my mother. I would wait on Sundays for her to drive up and she never did. I thought, “ God, You gave me a mother that doesn’t care at all.” 

It was hard for all of us. I still got to see Pete and Henry for a while. Lorrie and Brenda were in foster care, so I didn’t get to see them very much. Later Pete and Henry were moved, and I felt so alone. I was so thankful that I had Mildred Moore and Anita Norris to take the place of my mother.

I got to go to church for the first time ever. I will always remember Dr. Gene Garrison, pastor of First Baptist Church. I would listen to his messages and would pray. I thought if I prayed, things would get better. I learned about Jesus and I finally figured out why you closed your eyes when you pray to God.

I remember the day I walked the aisle at that church and was saved. When Dr. Garrison said, “Let Jesus have control of your life,” that’s what I did. I wasn’t an angel, but I did love the Lord. I loved to go to camp and when we would pray on that hill, I just knew God was listening to everything I prayed for. I would pray that I would never have children if I couldn’t raise them myself. I was going to tell my children every night that I loved them and give those hugs I never got.

I got to looking at my life and I would think how bad it was. Even so, it wasn’t as bad as some of the girls who had lost a parent. I felt I had lost mine, but they were out there somewhere—I just didn’t know where. I wanted to go look for my daddy, but I never once thought of going to look for my mother. She knew where I was and didn’t come to see me.

I still keep in touch with my sponsor, Pauline Minard. She lives in Broken Arrow. I had so many people that cared about me. Pauline and I talk about things in my life when we call each other or write. She is a beautiful person that the Lord has let come into my life.

I finally got to go live with my aunt and uncle in Maysville. I got to spend time with my daddy and my grandmother. We became very close. When I heard Brenda was going to Texas, I wanted to go with her. On January 1, 1977, I moved to Texas and lived with my cousin. I hated it there, but there seemed to be nothing I could do to change the situation. I ran away, but got picked up. I started smoking by the age of 13, but no one knew. My cousin’s family didn’t go to church and I was thinking my life was back to what it once was. The family drank, so I did, too. I really hated my life. I asked God what my purpose for life was. I wanted to go to church. I found a friend and attended with her several times. I just floated through school. I wasn’t passing, but didn’t care if I even went. Half the time, I’d get on the bus, but not go to school. It was a hard teen-age life. I tried drugs, but didn’t care for them—they just made me feel worse. 

In my junior year I met Russell Woolverton, who was a senior, and we were married on July 18, 1981, under an oak tree at my aunt’s home. A lot of friends and family were present. Two weeks after we married, Brenda moved in with us. We had rented a house and that Christmas, my dad, Pete, Henry and Lorrie came to see us and stayed for a week. We were almost like strangers because we had not seen each other in several years. But I had always prayed God would watch over them.

  • Continued...

    We decided to move to Maysville, found a house, but had no job or money. The first Sunday we attended Antioch Baptist Church. My husband had a job offer there. It was a miracle. We figured if you go to church, good things happen to you. I got a job at a cafe and met some sweet people. Then we dropped out of church and nothing went right. We almost froze in the house we rented in Antioch. With our truck broken down; and the water to our house cut off because someone ran over the line, we had nothing to eat or drink. We decided to move back to Texas. My husband got his job back in the oilfield and we were doing OK, but knew something was missing. We began attending Black Jack Baptist Church, where my husband’s grandmother had gone as a child. God began to bless us. My dad started coming to see us two or three times a year. And we went to see him. I got to know all my brothers and sisters again.

    In June of 1982, my grandfather died and we went to Maysville to the funeral. While at the cemetery at Antioch, a woman approached me and said she was my mother. We had a short visit. I gave her my phone number and address, but I never heard from her. Twelve years later, she called and we visited, but we are not close.

    One week after our 10th anniversary, Russell and I discovered we were expecting a baby. Kysan Russell Woolverton was born on April 1, 1992. We had given up on having a child, although I had prayed for years. My whole world was happy as could be. Then we found my daddy had cancer. Kysan was only 3 months old and we went to Oklahoma City to the V.A. Hospital to be with my dad. He died shortly after I returned home to get my husband. 

    All of my brothers and sisters were together for the funeral and it crossed my mind that this would probably be the last time we would all be together. Daddy had always tried his best to keep us close, and now he was gone. At Thanksgiving, my mother and step-brother came to stay with us for a few days.

    On January 18, 1994, Koltyn Frank Woolverton was born—on my birthday. I now have two beautiful boys. Every night they get a hug and an “I love you”.

    I am proud to say we are still attending the same little country church. My husband was ordained a deacon on February 11, 1996. We are very dedicated to the church. I teach the small children in Sunday School, and keep the church clean. I never want to get out of church again. If I miss a Sunday, it never fails, I have a bad week. The verse that keeps me going is “I love you as if you were the only one. You’re not lost in a faceless crowd called humanity. You’re not just one of the billions, but you are special and unique to me.” My boys get on their knees every night to say their prayers.

    I thank God for a place like the Baptist Children’s Home. I thank each of you who has helped me grow into the woman I am today. I’m not perfect, but as long as I have Jesus walking beside me I think I will do OK. I miss my family, but I pray that one day we will be together, if not on earth, then in Heaven.

    Pete is living in Pauls Valley and is doing real good. Lorrie is living in Lexington, Texas (about 16 miles from me), and she’s doing well. Brenda is in Rockdale, Texas. She has two children and is a single parent. I talk to her almost every day. Henry is in the county jail at Pauls Valley, awaiting sentencing. I have been praying for him to get right with God and get his life in order. In 1981, I discovered I have an older half-sister by my daddy. She is 37 years old, and lives in Purcell. I was in touch with her quite often after Daddy passed away, but it has been a year since I have talked with her.

    My mom had another baby after we were all taken from her; the state has taken him, too. He is supposed to be living in Tulsa, but I’ve never met him.

    I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a wonderful husband. I have someone to love me and care about me. He has taken me back to the Baptist Children’s Home and he thought it was a nice place. He met Anita and Donna Norris and David Peck. I have talked so much about all of you, and also Mr. Browning. I think the only time I really got to talk to you was when I was in trouble, but I don’t remember being that bad. Or am I just forgetting? I just think the world of all of you I met there. That’s why I try to go visit when I can. Thank you for asking me to write this story. It has helped me, too.

    I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes, because as I look back, I realize that the Baptist Home is where I learned what Christmas really meant. I learned about God, and I pray that abused and neglected children everywhere would have a place like that to go to. It really breaks my heart to think there are children out there that have nowhere to turn. I used to sit in that window sill, look out and think, “Nobody cares”, but I knew my family at the Home did. Thank you all. God bless you.

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