Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On The Day I Was Born - Oh So ManyYears Ago

This picture is of the Des Moines River at flood stage as it roars through Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa. It is not an actual picture of the same flood condition as the day I was born, but similar. Ottumwa is separated into two parts by the Des Moines River.  The north side and the south side. My grandparents, Ralph and Hazel Cary, lived at 309 South Ward Street on the south side.  The Ottumwa Hospital was on the north side.  I think you are getting the gist of the story now, right?

In the last part of June, in 1935, my parents were living at 309 South Ward Street, with my grandparents.  I am not sure about all of the details that went into this situation, as I was just an innocent bystander at the time, but I can just about imagine the details.  My mother was seventeen years old and my father was twenty years old.  They were barely adults so had not gotten a real start in life yet, and here they were having a baby.  I don't apologize for that, as I had little to do with it, but I am grateful to them for having me at that particular time.   Later, would have made me a different person, and I like who I am, so I am happy.  Of course, I am using that very special thing called hindsight.

On that day, things weren't so rosy.  The main concern of Ottumwans was the rising Des Moines River and a possible flood in the city.  I can imagine the worried looks as the skies held everyone's attention. This is the same as today, as Mother Nature is not ever tamed and still does exactly as she pleases, just as she did in June 1935.  The afternoon before I was born my grandmother drove my mother to the hospital for my entrance into the great big wide world.  The grand event was accompanied by a big fanfare as my grandmother's car horn stuck and she didn't want to take time to stop and unstick it.  She drove from south Ottumwa, across the Jefferson Street Bridge to the Ottumwa Hospital on the north side with the horn blaring all the way.

Embarrassing of course, but even worse the fact that the citizens along the way thought that was a warning signal that the Des Moines River had gone over the bank.  It caused all sorts of panic and worry and curiosity about the river.  I can almost imagine that some kind man probably helped her as she parked in the hospital parking lot and got the horn unstuck.  It was one time in my life when I couldn't fix things -- not yet anyway.  I was totally at the mercy of my grandmother and my mother, and had to sit tight for awhile.

At 5:10 am I finally arrived amid all of the fanfare.  Of course, I can't vouch for any of this story, but this is what I have been told.  And as a famous genealogist said at a conference, family stories must be accurately and lovingly passed down or they are gone in three generations.

So dear friend, this was my grand entrance.  It was funny later, but I am sure not so much on that day. Have you heard any good stories about your grand entrance into the world?  If you have, share them with your family  -- or as I do, with the whole world.  If you haven't heard any stories about your grand entrance -- ask your mother, she will never forget that day.  Of course, most of us are not of the famous ilk, so these things are not important to the general public, but, oh so important to us and our families.  

I believe we are all important, and the day you arrived was a very special day, because you are very special.  Patj

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