November 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
I have the honor of introducing you to Tomaca Govan, a new friend and a possible cousin of mine. She is the Founder and Editor of the blog, Women Move the Soul. We met through LinkedIn. She is a colleague and cousin of a friend who had been very helpful to me in creating a documentary film entitled Shared History. Tomaca tells us some of the memories her mother shared with her about spending a few months as a maid in the World War II era.
My Mom was born in 1922. When she came of college age, she was on the waiting list for nursing school. While waiting, she was one of several maids working for a wealthy white woman in Maryland. She’s told me some very interesting stories about the few months that she worked there including how all the maids had to share their rations with this woman because during the war [WW II) people were given rations for food and things like that.
Even though the maids were required to share their rations with the Mrs., they were not allowed to eat the “luxuries” such as butter. My mother insisted on eating butter whenever she wanted to because they were her rations, so why shouldn’t she have some? The other maids did not and they would fuss at my mom for her lack of proper etiquette… : )
My mother was the youngest of 5. Her mother died when she was two. Her only sister was 7 years older and took care of my mom like she was her child. Her father remained a single parent for the rest of his life. My mother was his favorite and was very spoiled, sheltered and catered to. She was the baby so everyone protected her. That’s why she had a certain amount of feistiness when she started what was her first job as a maid.
But, she was there for less than a year because she was eventually called to school. And she was really glad about that because she had no interest in being someone’s maid.
Also, in terms of my mom working as a maid – she refused to call the woman’s daughter Miss ____, because the daughter was younger than she was. All the other maids kept telling her to call her Miss ___ so she wouldn’t get in trouble, but she was never reprimanded for that and stuck to her guns.
One of the maids was responsible for polishing the silver on a regular basis. She would make a grand presentation of pulling it all out and then polishing only a few pieces and putting everything back. The silverware was never used, so she felt it was a waste of time.
When my mother started working as a nurse, there was a white police officer who had been shot and brought to the Black hospital because it was the closest. They performed surgery and saved his life. The next day, his family and people from his job wanted to move him to a white hospital, but he insisted on staying there because “these people saved my life.”
Blacks and whites have a very rich history [together] and is something that his not taught in schools. I really feel fortunate to have met you and to have access to the information that you are putting on the internet. You give us light.