My Story: Raising 42 Girls

contributed by Betty

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I grew up in an orphanage of 42 girls from ages 4 through 18. All had chores. My younger sister was 4 years old. Some of her chores were dusting, emptying small trashcans, and sweeping the inside stairs with a little brush and dustpan.

We were all expected to lay our clothes out for the next day, get up, wash our faces and brush our teeth, and then get dressed on our own. Children can be taught quickly to do this. Our clothes were kept in a locker. Each child was assigned a metal locker for our personal belongings. We had three sets of shoes. One was for school, one for Sunday and one for play. When we got home from public school, we had to change into play shoes and clothes, and then go to "study hall" where a retired teacher, who lived at the home, checked our homework. We were not allowed to go play until all the answers on our homework were right. Thus, we all did well in school.

Nightly, we threw our clothes down a laundry chute. In the basement, the laundress washed, dried and folded our clothes. The dormitory housekeeper returned them to our beds. We had to put the folded underwear and socks in our locker and hang up the dresses (1950's).

The school bedrooms were in three sections. The first dormitory was for the elementary school children. The second dormitory was for the middle school children. Finally, the third was for high school girls.

I now hear parents say they can't get to Sunday School on time because they have "three children to get ready." I wonder how they would have handled 42 little and big girls? Once children are taught to get themselves ready and do chores, they enjoy it, as it makes them feel "big and important."

Our allowance was small. It was just enough to go to the movies and buy a small bag of candy.

With my children and grandchildren, I know they enjoyed doing things for themselves and yours will too.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send an email to

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