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MT Mining Woman - early 1930s

Excerpted from Retail Therapy – Voiced by Julia Harris


Adah E. Morton Enlow and family

MONTANA MINING TOWN WOMAN – early 1930s, as shared by Julia Harris (material has been modified for theatrical purposes)

Me husband worked for the mine. The mine owned Butte. They thought they owned us, too. I was thirty-eight. Had a wee one and two boys, Paul six and John eight. There’d been miscarriages -- between Paul and the baby. But we didn’t talk about such things back in ‘29. Well . . . (big sigh) One evening, following an ordinary day, I called the boys to supper and noticed that Paul’s knuckles were bruised and bloody. I asked him what he’d done to himself, and he said Sister had done it. Sister Margaret Anne? He had been seated at the back of the class, but needed glasses, which we were saving up for, by the way, and he couldn’t see the board so kept giving wrong answers. Sister wrapped him with her ruler for every wrong answer. “Is it five?” he asked. SMACK! “Is it an eight?” he asked. SMACK! “I’m sorry, Sister, might it be a three?” SMACK! Why, a heat ran through me quick as if you’d lit a match to kerosene. I threw on me coat, grabbed up the horsehair whip, and stormed into town where I found Sister. I whipped her good for what she’d done to me Paul. My anger spent, I walked home, tucked the wee ones into bed, said our prayers, and took me self to bed. Sometime -- in the middle of the night -- we heard a pounding on the door. It was the union boss. He told John, me husband, to pack up. He was fired and we all best be on the first train out of town in the morning. Oh, John was furious, but he had that quiet kind of anger, unlike me. He pressed his lips together so tightly that they turned white. There was no use in arguing with the union man. They tell you to go, you go. We roused the kids, and we all began packing up. John said hardly a word to me the entire time, even though I tried to explain myself. Said I was sorry, over, and over. Begged him to forgive me. I had done what any mother would have done, hadn’t I? But he wouldn’t hear, nor would he speak. We got on the next train. And we headed east settling in Moorhead, Minnesota. We tried to put Butte behind us. And we did for a while. I became a teacher and a Christian Scientist. Didn’t want to have anything more to do with that Catholic church. And then – treachery – when me oldest boy, John, Jr. turned eighteen – he had me committed to the state hospital in Jamestown. Diagnosis? “Schizophrenia with religious delusions”. Oh, it was a right ole’ snake pit, it was. I was there for four years until I was released to a sort of nursing home. Me youngest, me daughter, would bring me cookies at Christmas. I never lived with me children or my husband again

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