My “witness” Part 3:
For a few months in the latter part of my fifth grade year in 1970, my mother worked at a private school headquartered in a church. She had an Elementary Education degree and had taught in both public and “Christian” schools at different points during my parents’ marriage. She didn’t especially like it. I take it that she took the job to keep us able to buy food and keep the utilities on.
Her agenda, in the midst of the trauma of the end of her marriage, was to determine how she could make a living. Somehow, she settled on Medical Records. With a Bachelors Degree, she could finish a one year course at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, then take the exam to be a Registered Record Administrator.
We “hunkered down” for a difficult year. With money from child support, some support from both my grandmothers, and some alimony from my father, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of enough to survive.
We moved into an apartment in the Fondren Neighborhood of Jackson. This is now the “hip and happening” neighborhood, but then it was just a place with with housing close to UMMC. I went to sixth grade at Duling Elementary School, my sister went to second grade at Duling, and my brother went to seventh grade at Bailey Junior High School. Due to what I now know to be “White Flight,” there were only enough sixth graders at Duling to make one class.
We continued to worship at Broadmoor Baptist Church. In retrospect I realize that must have been weird for my mother, but she didn’t complain to us. At some point during that year, a proposal for Broadmoor to operate a “Christian” school was brought to the congregation.Dr. David Grant, the senior pastor at Broadmoor, had continued to keep his own children in Jackson Public Schools. I don’t recall him speaking to the issue, (the Pastor in Southern Baptist churches is the “moderator” or Presiding Officer, at Church business meetings) but I’m quite sure he was opposed. In any case, Broadmoor did NOT start a “Christian” school.
Dr. Grant was also exceptionally kind and supportive to our family. By all accounts, this was the way he lived his life and ministry all the time.
I said that we had barely enough to survive. We scoured the Fondren neighborhood for discarded soft drink bottles. We used the deposits we collected to buy food. Every now and then, we even had enough to get milkshakes at Brent’s Drugs. I never discount the gift of being able to order a milkshake at Brent’s now, just if I want one.
I mention our financial situation to indicate that a viable public school system was vital to our lives. If we were collecting soft drink bottles to buy food, there certainly was no money for private or “Christian” school tuition.
As my mother came to the conclusion of her Medical Records education, she sought a job. She was offered the position of Director of Medical Records at King’s Daughters Hospital in Greenville, MS. I can rightly say that Greenville is “”Where my story begins,” in many ways. That story will take a while to tell.