They told me, when I was old enough to even think to ask, that I was abandoned when I was just a few weeks old. Shadyview Children’s Home took guardianship just a week later. I guess I would have been about a month old. Abandoned. I couldn’t really wrap my seven-year-old mind around the idea. It was too big and, let’s face it, I wasn’t really getting a stellar education at that point. At seven, I could barely recite my ABCs. No way I was going to know the meaning of that 9-letter word.
Shadyview Children’s Home. It wasn’t as nice as it sounds. First of all, there were no views, unless you count the view of the bumper to bumper traffic on the 4th Street, which was right outside the windows on the front of the building, or the view of the alley, which was all that you could see from the back. I can’t remember a night when the noise from the cars, four stories below, did not keep me awake. In fact, from the time that I was about one year old, I had to sleep wearing ear plugs, if I was going to sleep at all.
Second of all, there was no shade. How could there be? There wasn’t a tree within a two block radius of Shadyview, and the poles for the telephone wire were barely wide enough to cast a shadow, let alone provide shade. And for as long as I can remember, all I wanted were trees. I longed for forests and cool dappled sunlight.
The director of the Home, or Head-Mistress Danbury as she liked us to call her–yeah, she was just about as pretentious as that sounds–went on about how I was a mite of a child, tiny, with a shock of scarlet hair that fell below my shoulders. It was the first strange thing that they noticed about me, but it would not be the last.
“I never saw a child that young with so much hair,” she remembered, clutching nervously at her pearls. Head-Mistress Danbury was always like that. Dramatic and theatrical. The staff at the home named me Bailey, not my parents. It sounded Irish and they figured that was what I must be with all of my red hair. They didn’t even give me a last name….
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©L. M. Davis. All Rights Reserved.
Check back next week for Part 2 of Bailey’s story…