I was up bright and early with anticipation. After breakfast, Mom Susie and I were on our way to St. Mary’s. I had expected to see a younger child, but Margaret was about my size and age. We were left alone to play and get acquainted while Mom Susie and Mother Superior talked in another room. After a while, Mom Susie and I returned to Uncle Sam’s. She said she had to promise to bring up Margaret and me as Catholics, and after I got baptized, we could have Margaret on a trial basis. I was soon baptized. Mom Susie had started calling me Jeanette from the day she took me from the home, so she had me baptized Mary Jeanette Ballentine. (I was born Alberta Wanda Riggs.) Shortly after my baptism, we took Margaret back to Blunt Springs. Needless to say, I was happy. Margaret and I became good friends and playmates.
I don’t know whatever happened to Uncle Lewis, but I can’t remember seeing him again. I do know Mom Susie changed. She became anxious and worried about not having enough food and money to keep up the farm. It was hard for her to keep good hired hands, too. I was often hungry.
Mom Susie would sometimes lock Margaret and me in the closet when she went shopping. One day, she left us in a bus station. We were there all day. Evening came, and we told the guard what had happened, and a lady from Welfare came and took us overnight. The next day Mom Susie came to get us.
One day, she pushed me out of the passenger side of the car on a highway. The scar over my right eye is from that incident. I believe now she wanted to kill me for insurance money.
Another day, I can’t remember why, she became angry with Margaret and picked up a lard can and hit Margaret on the head. All I could see was blood all over Margaret. I tried to make her stop hitting Margaret, and she turned on me, hitting me. My forehead and leg began bleeding profusely. Later, she knew Margaret needed a doctor, so she drove us to a hospital in Birmingham. She told the doctor a cookie jar had fallen on Margaret’s head when she was trying to get a cookie, and several pieces of the pottery had struck me and cut me, too.
The next morning, the county sheriff came to our house and took Margaret and me away.
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