Say My Name

An African-American Family History

My Story -- Your Comments

My mother and father's engagement photo.






     When I began this history, it was my goal to find out as much as I could about my ancestors. As I researched books on how to begin this project, most sources insisted that one must begin by telling oneís own story. I realized then that although my life may be dull and ordinary to me, somewhere down the line someone may be interested in how I live if only for the sake of their ancestral research.

      I was born the oldest of four girls. I was nicknamed Princess by my father when I was three days old and the name stuck. My sister's names are Rosalyn, Gloria Stannette and Yolanda Camille. We grew up in a very stable home. My father worked at the Gary Sheet and Tin Mill while my mother stayed at home for the first eleven years of my life.

      My father, whose nickname was Brother, inherited many things from his father and in turn passed those things down to me. He loved to read. One of my earliest memories is that of my father walking me to the neighborhood library to get my first library card. But my father wasn't your ordinary bookworm. He loved the outdoors, hunting, and animals. It was his dream to go to Alaska and hunt kodiak bears. He raised hybrid wolf dogs and rabbits. There was a period when he wanted to learn the art of falconry and archery. I remember the crossbow he had and a longbow that was as big as me. I also remember the hoods used to cover falcons during training. My father also dabbled in hypnosis. I would say this made him an unusual person.

      It was my father's ambition to be an architect but this dream was interrupted, first by World War II where he served in the cavalry unit in Italy, and secondly, by marriage. Although he lived right down the street from my mother, it wasnít until he returned from the war that they actually met. They married October 16, 1948, on his birthday after a short courtship. They decided to relocate to Detroit, Michigan, where he attended college in pursuit of his ambition. Then I came along and my sister Rosalyn two years later. It seems this detered  his dream permanently. We returned to Gary so he could support his growing family. He got a job at the mill where he worked until he retired two years before his death.

      My motherís life revolved around the church and her family. Being the oldest, she was called upon to assist her mother in the care of her many siblings. So when she got married, she wanted a very small family.  She didn't work outside the home for 12 years until a tubal pregnancy almost proved fatal. That altered her life. After that near death experience she became very active outside of the home.  She went back to college although she never finished. She started working in the Gary school system and became a much sought after substitute teacher. My mother also became even more active in the church on the state and national level.

       My sisters and I enjoyed a very good childhood. Gloria was salutatorian of her class at Roosevelt High where I had been an honor student several years earlier. We both went on to college. I graduated in 1971 from Indiana University. Rosalyn started college but didn't finish even though it was her ambition to be a nurse. Instead she became a medical secretary for several doctors. Yolanda chose not to marry and lives with my mother in the house she has lived in all her life. She also started college and she also quit before finishing. She was hired by the postal service and has worked there for over 25 years so far. Between the three of us that did marry, we have 10 children. I have two daughters, Arianne and Jillian, and a son, Ryan.

     Even though I was the oldest,  I was the last of my sisters to marry. As a teenager I was very shy. I didnít even have a boy friend until I was 18. He was Henry Bush or "Pluke" from South Bend who I met at church. My first love was my next boy friend, Michael Tatum from Savannah, Tennessee. We met on a hot summer day in June, 1968 at his cousin Judy's house. We talked about getting married even though he was a terrible womanizer. Unfortunately he died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 1976.

      I was briefly engaged to another man, William B. who I met while working at the water company. He was a dear friend but I didnít love him so I called off the engagement after two weeks. Later I fell head over heels in love with Craig. We met in January, 1979, got engaged in May and was married in November all in the same year. Although Craig worked in the mill as a millwright, he was also a professional musican,. He played back-up on the road for R & B singers. Craig dreamed of producing a jazz album and continue to play tenor sax at local clubs. He never gave up on his dream but, similar to my father, he put our family before his own ambitions. Our marriage lasted until he died in 1998.



      This story is not over. As long as someone remembers the names of loved ones, there will be more stories to tell. Secrets, old or new, some taken to the grave, some hidden in plain sight, are just waiting to be discovered and disclosed.

      There is so much work yet to be done. I will continue to search and dig for roots. There will be abridgments made as more is learned. This is a labor of love but it will always be incomplete.

      I apologize for any unintentional errors found in this manuscript. Please know that many of the observations are purely my own.

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