Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Mieography

In honor of Sunday being Mother's Day, I chose Mother Hale. She was born in 1905 in Elizabeth City, NC, but raised in Philly. Her father was killed when she was very young, and her mother died when she was 16, leaving her a true orphan. She managed to finish highschool on her own, and then married Thomas Hale. Her husband moved them to New York, and he ran a business and went to college, while she worked as a janitor. After a few years of marriage, Thomas died of cancer, leaving her a young widow with three young children.

To make ends meet, she continued her janitor job, and cleaned houses, working day and night. Eventually, she had to quit one of those jobs, to spend time with her children. To make money, she began to provide childcare in her home, children who ended up staying all week with her, and only going home on weekends. Her own daughter didn't realize until she was almost 16 that most of the kids in her home were not her siblings. In 1940, she began to take in foster children, eventually rearing over 40 of them. Her foster children grew up, having children of their own, whom refer to her as their grandmother.
In 1969, Clara was confronted by a young, drug addicted mother who was too intoxicated to take care of her baby. She was 64 years old, but could not refuse to care. When she left the room to make a phone call, the mother abandoned her child. She kept the little girl, nursing her through the withdrawals. The mother returned long enough to drop of her other children, whom Clara also cared for. She did actually, return for all her children. Word got out, and soon the apartment Mother Hale had was full, wall to wall, with 22 addicted babies. Some abandoned, some orphaned. She told a reporter "before I knew it, every pregnant addict in Harlem knew about the crazy lady who would give her baby a home."
Her children, now grown themselves, joined her in this task. They took jobs to provide money to the household, while Mother Hale nursed the infants, usually having the more frail ones with her constantly, doing what was necessary to ease the painful detox period for them. She never resorted to MORE drugs to detox them, just love, and attention. The process took weeks, usually.
"It was not their fault they were born addicted. Love them. Help one another." She said this to the Chicago Trib.
In 1973, she officially founded Hale house, in Harlem to care for the babies, with her children at her side. She was awarded the Women's International Center's Living Legacy award in 1986. She used to say "I love children, and I love caring for them. That is what the Lord meant for me to do."
She died in 1992, but Hale House is still in use, as America's oldest, and best known agency providing care for those addicted born addicted to drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and HIV.

No Short story this week, because I think Mother Hale needs to hang out for her special day. I will resume David's tale next week.
Now go hug your mothers if you can! If not hug yourself. Most of you are mothers


Daryl said...

Really good choice, Mie! She did - and the organization she founded continues - such good things... so many chidlren owe their lives to this woman.


sybil law said...


Jo Beaufoix said...

Wow she was an amazing lady. She must have saved so many lives.
Great choice Mie. It's not Mother's Day here but I'm hugging me anyway.

holly said...

that is sooo awesome.