Journey of Ten

in June of 1956 went to Salzburg and in a day inherited this children’s home with about eleven children ten of them being racially mixed children we came in the evening and the children were in bed but in the morning that was 18 black eyes looking at me you know those little duffer’s and I we never we didn’t have children we were married eight years and miscarried twins the first year and so it didn’t have children we had our time together we were ready for family let’s see the oldest boy was Robert and then Evelyn then there was Peggy then Jerry then Joe then Wilma then myself Pete and then Fritz and Eddie and Betty I think I’ve got him in the right order but between the youngest and all is is only two and a half years when we inherited the family the oldest one was only three and a half and four of them were still in diapers so they were quite small a lot of diapers that was before the day of disposable diapers people so okay so you speak German Jerry you’re from Austria you’re black that’s nice it just doesn’t fit that the I I don’t I don’t know I it doesn’t fit the mold I guess I should be blonde I guess I you know yeah a lot of people I have had a lot of people say well you sure have a dark complexion for being from Austria I thought they were all white you know then I have to explain that my my mom was Austrian but that was after American servicemen from over here back in the 50s Austria was real prejudiced it was a very prejudiced country and that’s actually how all nine of us kids got put into a children’s home because as soon as the mothers realized they didn’t have a white you know that we were mulatto or you know anything other than white they got rid of us and in accident at nine and ten of us were very very fortunate to be put into a children’s home I’m sure a lot of kids didn’t meet that you know sort of a nice beginning mediate to put it real nicely you know who knows what happened to thousands of kids they were still have mentality yet anybody that was of color was seen as outcasts or novelty so you had one or the other and I think that was just a stigma that was put on certain people of color and and they just weren’t accepted I had grandparents that came and visited me at the orphanage every now and then my real mom that I have have no idea who they were so I don’t know anything other than the my mom was Yugoslavian and my dad was either African American or it he opened the ethnicity and I really don’t have a good sense of that my birth mother I remember seeing her one time she came to visit at the house in Europe and I couldn’t forgot who she was blonde hair and blue eyes I was just gorgeous woman I thought she can’t be my mother she must be a visitor but she was my birth mother the orphanage started in 1954 of a labor of 53 I’m not sure about the year and a couple just went over there it had not been in existence before in fact the facility that we eventually in a beat

living at was an old mill was built and I think in the 1500s or so it’s been about 500 years old and it was converted into an orphanage they all froze real big there was a lot of us kids there was other was ten of us at the time their new orphans had a lot of snow a lot of Hills had a lot of fun just doing goofy things I mean taking a baby wagon down the hill and watching a kid fall out of it you know it’s just typical things kids could do and I think that was a richness of that that we were allowed to be kids yet were taught to be responsible I don’t think anyone who could have ever asked for more of a better and more fun childhood with acres to play in a huge mountain behind our house and all of his children just ran all over the place we had so much fun the thing that we got in trouble for and it’s it’s you could probably imagine with nine of us kids if my mom and dad wanted to know who did something everybody said I didn’t do it I didn’t do it I and so it was like everybody was lying you know it was few small things if you it’s usually small things that we made big there’s always a bully I mean he’s just in that video you saw where that kids when a girl was pushing kids down her Hill and one starts crying I mean that’s just tip of civics but I think was healthy if we got out of hand they were disciplined for it when you have nine kids in one house somebody’s going to get to sent to the corner every day probably two or three times so yeah I mean you know you know when you’re kids you find all kinds of mischief to get into and when there’s nine of those kids in one house it was real easy to find mischief to get into we all did our share of getting in trouble my parents were strict and I’m extremely grateful for that I don’t remember hearing a single swear word in my house in my entire 18 years I lived there never once yelling screaming or otherwise never saw it until I left my house they taught us values working values we all said thank you and please and all the time everywhere if we didn’t we would know I heard a rumbling upstairs and I remember through this day where that gets mad I I told Aunt Edna that I hear something upstairs in the Attic real loud and she told me to be quiet and eat because we were eating you we were at the supper table and yeah pretty soon from the third story up the smoke was coming clear down where we were sitting in the bottom story in the first story eating supper the smoke was swirling down it was smoky and all the children were crying and running everywhere every direction it finally calmed down I don’t remember who said everybody just hold my hand well I’ll walk out together the fire to us trailer looked colossal when the house burned down we got kind of farmed out to different neighbors real sweet you know it was that community it was actually Krause mine was the name of the town and it was a like a farming community and everybody in in little communities like that it’s just you’re just like one big family I remember I Estate was a farmer named Pepin Bauer and some of the girls stayed with toy dinners and they just you know we stayed with different farmers make the care was just like we were their kids it was fun but after a couple days we all wanted to be together again we really wanted to know what is Betty you’re Wilma doing and that what you wanted to see them but ruber in such an area that we were farmed out a ways away and mom and dad tried to keep track of us at all times to make sure we were behaving of course my father did rebuild it with some help from other missionaries but I remember he had a huge cement mixer and he made these little blocks hundreds and thousands of these blocks by hand and built the house pretty at the time we came to Austria was in the hospital Peter had trouble with his heart once when the twins were born and then he got real he got better and then fritted turned to the worse and then we found out that his pituitary gland did not work so he was little he never grew and so it it was always hard he wanted to be home and he always wanted drink water and you know we want to keep the fluid out of his body it was difficult but he pretty enjoyed being on

the farm and being at home he just he just loved it so but he was many times you know back in the hospital a sweet little guy yeah real sweet and he just loved to be with the family he was in the hospital probably half of his life and whenever he’s in the hospital he’d asked to go home he wanted to go home but he passed away at five and a half February 14 1961 and I don’t know why this takes my mind but I just it’s that whole event to this day there’s some days where I just I have tears because it’s just I think you love I lost my buddy you know as as odd as that may seem because we’re mean he was so ill but there’s just that connection they have to somebody and I think it’s because it’s my flesh from blood if nothing else yeah my brother’s was buried in a pauper’s grave just I guess that’s the way they did things over there but I I specifically remember that and maybe I was thinking that happened but at the funeral I had a red hat on and for some reason some Palmer and their two made me sure to take it off and it did that’s stuck in my mind that why why he had me do that but it was just one of those things that I can’t recall my emotions I just know that he’s done he was he was frets he was just you know I think he has so many ailments he’s a pretty strong little kid and I remember he would say if you don’t give me those crayons I’m gonna be mad and on things like that we fight around crayons on things like that I mean eat there that’s just typical what kids do and so but I think he was such a frail kid from what I remember that we you know you have to be pretty careful with dealing with him there was no overt racism in Austrian Germany that one would notice however we had come to the conclusion that there was sort of a hidden subtle bit of racism when Evelyn and Robert were 10 or 11 instead of sending them to the school that would be a college preparatory school the school authorities did not consult us they just sent Bob and Evelyn to the middle school which would have qualified them for good occupations but would not have qualified them to ever go to college I think it was an all-white school and I believe we were the only colored people in the school in Austria I I didn’t feel I was black green or otherwise I just didn’t feel it I don’t think children feel it until they’ve become older I remember an incident one time where my sister my mother wanted to take her to ballet classes and they said to her we don’t take Negroes in this class my mother said okay that’s fine so she went home and I’m sure people did and said something that we were not aware of but because my parents protected us I never had seen the print person and had never seen a Negro in Austria all of my life I know that the future wouldn’t be best for the simple reason that they were the offsprings of girls there was no marriage and so they always would have been looked up it may have been a real problem no it wouldn’t be but then it would have been my mom is a very strong person and she had to go through a lot of adversity of herself because when Russia invaded Vienna she had to go through a lot of negative experiences so I think even though she may have not been the same skin color she probably understood pain emotional pain and abandonment and to this day she’s just a very grateful person for she has having walked ten kids down the streets of Austria she got some criticisms some people made some good comments towards her about her having these mixed-race kids with her so many of them is you know that really affected her and I think that was not you know sort of healthy for her to hear but it didn’t stop her from loving us one time we have to stay with some neighbors and they went to give us a bath and they couldn’t relate to the fact that we were colored they thought they were dirty so it’s just kind of a unique perspective but that’s just that’s because they didn’t see anybody of color and so they thought or we’re dirty kids when it was just that’s the color of our skin sometimes people would ask me what color’s your blood you know it’s just a naive comment but they didn’t realize

how much that could hurt me if I let it those are the things that encouraged us to want to adopt plus we thought that it might be better for the children to have a mother and a father instead of an aunt and uncle for the first about eight years we just knew them up of John and Leigh and we had so many other people in the orphanage so they were just part of the group we kind of sensed that my uncle John Netley would become our parents I’m not sure what it was there but it just seemed like they were that was their passion alive to help us out when my parents had indicated they wanted to adopt us I was elated I knew what it meant as far as I could at that age that they wanted to make us their children I think what made the biggest impact on me in 1962 I believe when they decided that we’d have a better opportunity in America I think down deep inside I think I felt we start feeling like somebody cared enough to take the risk to take us in her lies no matter what baggage we brought with us when they told us that they can adopt us moves to America I think we ice I personally saw saw that as something great happening I did it was what was hurtful for me or not really hurtful but I’m discouraging idolo Popkin and titters day I know the drawers in and we’re left at an orphanage it’s just kind of interesting how you leave some memory behind but that’s a memory that keeps it connected to that place you hear a lot about America when you’re in another country I did anyway about how great it wasn’t so yeah I was really excited to come where everything that people said pretty well was what America was like I knew that mother and father had indicated to us we would like your children to get a better education and would you like to go to America at the time we were I don’t know maybe 14 or so it didn’t really register what it meant to move it just didn’t register at all yellow moved to a farm in Idaho we arrived here in Caldwell with the two cars and almost no money however we found a hundred and sixty acre farm where the people were willing to accept a very small down payment we just started farming we were shell-shocked absolutely shell-shocked you know coming from Europe in the city with the little trains and little restaurants and cobblestones to come to this huge farm I think we had to embrace a little bit at a time at that time 160 acres was big you know then of course my dad bought more and more but yeah we it was really exciting it was the the farm had a dog that came with it we joyed him if smokey was his name he’s a pig I don’t know why he was it wasn’t a Labrador but he’s a big dog like a lab and and of course like I said we all got our chores then right away and and and for the next several years we worked hard we you know we it was a good life though there’s a good life I think it probably took all of us about a year to figure out what a farm is and this big place for us and we had to work then a little bit Oliver had to pitch in we learned the work then and I think that’s the thing that that sticks with me I think none of us children will ever be without a job does they’ve taught us to work no matter what it is whether your janitor whether your office manager take that job and do the best you can and be responsible and I think that’s that’s that’s a benefit that I’ll never regret because that’s helping me take on any job when things are tight I’ve learned to find a job somewhere my first day of school at the u.s. go in speak English you can mix first and it’s just how do you communicate with somebody when you don’t know the language Wow they were shocked to him sure because nine of us came in here schoolgirl no ingles English and you know and there’s some embarrassing things you say there yo that’s not an appropriate thing to say it was natural to draw too much to the to each other that’s brothers and sisters because we you know we could sneak some German and communicate it’s amazing how he came out of that because we all are we eventually learn English but it was just like buddy up with somebody and go for it no excuses you know and I think mom and

dad helped up because they forced us to speak English now German you could always fall back to your mother tongue but they said no you’re in America speak English I’ve been blessed have a great childhood and have great parents I don’t know we just fell accepted by them I it’s kind of interesting people say well it was is the negative experience in all my time I don’t see it as a negative experience I think it gave us a perspective on life they sacrificed so much to come over there you know I I wish I could be a tenth of what my dad is somebody took me in somebody vide me as a person I think that’s that’s the piece I take from that my mother fathers I have now are my mother and father they change her diapers they fit me they protected me we all had strugglers in our lives you know even in our gaunt years but mom and dad are there no matter what and I think that’s the consistency I saw in them that no matter what we struggled through they said hey we love you we care for you and once you we want to help you through the choices they sacrifice an awful lot for us kids not many people would pick up ten little black children into their home adopt them and think nothing of it that is love I felt they gave me a new hope in life when it seems hopeless I’d I don’t need other parents I have parents which I adore all of our youngsters have never had the least bit of trouble finding jobs and pretty good jobs on the farm they learned to work with it we had to work and they learn to work all of them have done quite well really it was stressful at times but we enjoyed the children I felt that when the time came that my children say I want to go I don’t care what they want to be I said here’s the door you go and you make yourself a life and what you work for that’s what you’re gonna have I came with nothing you go you leave with nothing I have nothing to give I taught you how to work and reduced it to the Lord and I said that’s your legacy you know our little bitty thing they all did beautiful and I’m proud of them those that have nothing I’m proud of all they’re happy you know they don’t have to worry about losing anything