The Orphan Train

Captain’s Log   5,730

Best spam caught in my filter this morning.  “Your har is easy on the eye.”  I guess I should be flattered.  I wonder if they meant HAR as in har har or har-dee-har.  Did they mean hair?  It’s all so speculative.  

It’s cold in my house this morning.  56 degrees and I love it.  Slippers on my feet, coffee cup cradled in my hands, big robe keeping me warm.  I don’t mind the cold.  It’s easier to get warm when you are cold that to get cool when you are hot.  I added an extra blanket to my bed and all is well.  Snuggly buggly.

I always tell people to dress warmly when they come to visit in the winter.  Yes, this is San Diego, but it does have seasons.  Sorta.   There isn’t any heat in the museum either, so I am used to being chilly.  If I want to warm up, I get in the car and drive to the store.  Or take a hot shower.  It’s not rocket science.

When I lived in Minnesota, I took pride in my toughness for dealing with the seasons.  So, I deal with the seasons as toughly as I can here.  Toughly.  Not sure if that’s even a word.  It is now.

We had a great book discussion yesterday.  The book was The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity.  Interesting take on the life of Louise Brooks, a young starlet in the 1920’s who helped bring the bob into women’s hair fashion.  She was a talented dancer and actress….but like so many, she fell into the pits of alcoholism and worse.  She reminded me a bit of Lindsay Lohan today.  

louise brooks

The book also explained the orphan trains that traveled across the United States, hoping to place homeless kids from the east coast into better lives out west.

To quote:

Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children’s Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from the poverty and debauchery of the city streets and placing them in morally upright farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering.

He proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms out west. They would be placed in homes for free but they would serve as an extra pair of hands to help with chores around the farm. They wouldn’t be indentured. In fact, older children placed by The Children’s Aid Society were to be paid for their labors.

The Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900’s and more than 120,000 children were placed. This ambitious, unusual and controversial social experiment is now recognized as the beginning of the foster care concept in the United States.

Orphan Trains stopped at more than 45 states across the country as well as Canada and Mexico. During the early years, Indiana received the largest number of children.

orphan train

If you made it to California, that meant you were the least desirable of the lot.   I cannot even imagine.  I am sure some of the placements went well and some of them…..not so well.

It’s a busy week for me even though there is a holiday tossed in.  I am cramming five full days of work into Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  I also have to be the administrative on-site person on Friday.  That’s okay.  I hate shopping.  I really hate shopping on Black Friday!

So it’s time to buckle down and put in the hours.  

28 Comments

Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

28 responses to “The Orphan Train

  1. Black Friday may refer to the day when stores turn their profit margin from red to black, but it has come to confer darker meanings too: greed carried to excess beyond excess. So sad.

  2. joan

    The girls wonder what their fate would have been if left in NY compared to the “train”

  3. mommerry

    The topic of your blog today drew me in — I do enjoy it often but am too busy to bother responding with what little I would be able to add. I am currently doing research on the Orphan Trains that made stops in Iowa. Five girls stayed in Remsen after a stop here. One was raised by the Stoeber Maids – ever hear of them? She tells her story in the St Marys Centenial book published in 1985. She makes it sound like a normal enough life – if being raised by two eccentric women who were almost anti social could have been “normal”. My story will take a girl who was rejected at every stop the train made until she got to Iowa and a single, crippled young woman was allowed to claim her. I am doing the NaNo challenge – have five days and 5,000 words to go.

    • Patty O'Reilly

      Pleae share more with the Pie Rat community as you near the end of your research. It is a fascinating subject. And good luck with completion!

    • poolagirl

      I have heard stories of the Stoeber Maids but I cannot recall them. What was the name of the girl they took in?

      • mommerry

        Her name was Mary and she eventually joined the same convent as that of the St. Marys teachers and became Sr. Dorothea. She graduated in 1916 so you missed knowing her by a “few” years. Her story in the book says little about the actual train ride – she was under three when she arrived but does remember being taken to the rectory where they were taken by their foster parents. Her first memory is of being caught in a net by a firefighter. As an adult she went to NY and learned the background – a large tenement fire and few adult were saved – mostly children. .

    • bholles

      I remember them. We were very scared of them. I dont think they ever did anything they just looked strange.

      • mommerry

        The first time I saw them was at Church when our Freshman class were there to go to confession. We were in line when one of them got up and walked ahead of everyone to enter the confessional. I had 1st 8 grades in Oyens so was a newbie and knew nothing of them. I could hear her talking almost out loud but not clear enough to hear what she was saying. Ken Alesch whispered to me “she told Father she farted”. I got a bad cases of the giggles and a stern look from Sr. Annunciette. Later I learned they only spoke German. Ken had no idea what she confessed! Another time I was told one of them needed a penicillin shot in the hip. She was so upset that Dr. George made her lift her skirts so he could give it to her. When she went back to have another shot she had cut a hole through all her garments so she wouldn’t have to lift her skirt —BUT Doc gave it to her in the other hip. True? I don’t know. Bit I remember weird stuff like that.

  4. Many ended up in slavery. Awful.

    Yes, snuggled under my favorite quilt this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed at all. 🙂

  5. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. What do you eat in place of turkey? faux turkey?

  6. Patty O'Reilly

    Yup, 5 days of work but only 3 days to do it. PLUS, doctor’s appointment and hair appointment and pre-cooking chores. Now somebody has called a meeting for this afternoon. I’m already behind…

  7. scotvalkyrie

    Ah yes, the orphan train, where families could get slave children! Didn’t Horatio Algier promote that train so he could pick out little boys to seduce?

    • Now I must get to Google!

      • scotvalkyrie

        Eek! I think I mixed up all my history. Horatio Alger was the author of “Ragged Dick” and other “you can have the American Dream if you just work your nuts off” variety. Not connected to the orphan train at all. The dude who came up with it may have been a fan though

  8. Ter

    It was in the teens here overnight and a toasty 34 right now. Trade?

    I only went out once in recent memory on Black Friday, more to people watch than anything. I’m more of a Cyber Monday victim. Damn Amazon and the 1-click option…

  9. bholles

    Mary just called to tell me she is bringing you some firewood.

  10. Bex

    I have never shopped on Black Friday and never will. Though I am retired now and loving it, I can remember when I worked and my boss hated the fact that we got Thanksgiving Day off… he would have loved it if we volunteered to come in and work THAT day too. He was a grinch and probably still is. I am glad to be rid of him in my life. I am cooking the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken for Thansksgiving dinner this year…

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