( 1919 -- 1993 )
At the end of the school day, I'd come home and I'd do my homework, then my two things would be reading and the radio. I was a loner, shy. I had girlfriends at school but at home I didn't. All my friends were white. I'd see them at school but after school they'd go their way and I'd go my way. I can't remember ever having a black girlfriend. The Glee Club always sang at graduation, so I decided I was going to do that. I got in the Glee Club and sang at baccalaureate. There wasn't any interracial dating back then, that I know of. My brother taught me to dance for graduation, so he could take me to the prom.
I was in the first WAC unit to go overseas. We were the 688th Central Postal Battalion. All black women. We went over on a French passenger ship. It was huge. They also had the soldiers and the Red Cross nurses on there. We landed in Glasgow, Scotland and came on down to Birmingham, England. When we got there, all the English chicks had the black men! Later, I had a boyfriend. I guess it was who comes first. It was no problem. About two years later, we went across the English Channel and were stationed in France. We had a ball! I had a chance to go to Switzerland and we went to Paris and the Left Bank. I was in Paris on D-Day.
I went to Atlanta and I worked at the Toccoa County Child Welfare Board...while I was working on my master's. After I got my MSW, I worked for Family Services in Louisville, Kentucky. I was the only black in the agency. I noticed I didn't have any white clients, only black clients. I sashayed down to the office and I says, "I'm coming here to do social work. You're not going to say when a black client comes in, this is for you. I'm just taking all clients." So it was the first agency that had a mixed case load, white and black clients.
Mother was sick and my sister had her own family to take care of so I came back to take care of her. I joined the staff of the Children's Aid Society in Manchester, New Hampshire in March 1 959...served as a social worker with a major responsibility for providing intake services to new clients for the Central and Manchester regional offices. I had a nice apartment right downtown Manchester, near the agency. I drove to my house in Portsmouth on weekends and then back to Manchester for the week. On January 16, 1981, I retired with twenty-two years.
© 1997 Valerie Cunningham. All rights reserved.
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