Chapter 5 - Phyllis Waugh

Print Chapter 5 Phyllis Waugh

December 16, Friday 2005.

"Thank you for calling"- Phyllis Waugh Kraska.  Her voice was joyous and friendly when she said goodbye.

"She did gather us all up, although, she didn't want us," Phyllis's voice tightened into a question. "when our mother married Forest Roberts, in 1946 I understand that was one of his conditions. I was nearly six years old," she went on to explain.  "Well, in retrospect, I understand his reasons. There were three of us girls, and I don't know for certain about my sisters, but he molested me from age six until I was age thirteen." She paused, "he started right after we left the Ramey Home, and even when we lived in Germany for two years he went right on with it. He served in the Army so we lived in Alabama for a time too. It ended when he was shipped out, and then they were divorced after that in Baltimore."

"After I became an adult, I told our older brother, Ralph about Forrest's sexual abuse of me, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"It seemed to me, our mother always had to be the center of attention. She was a pretty woman with blue eyes and black hair. She was not very tall, maybe 5' 2" inches tall, and a bit heavy, but a very pretty woman," Phyllis emphasized. "Once, when her third husband, Harry Jones was in the hospital with a heart attack, who was much older than she, the doctor asked her about Harry's symptoms, but, she began to describe her own health problems. At last, I felt the anger of my frustration with her and her self centered attitude, I said, "can't you understand the doctor wants to know about Harry, not about you. This isn't about you?""  "Mother died young at age sixty-five, in 1983. She died of emphysema from smoking all her life, I guess.  She did stop smoking just before she died, " Phyllis said. 

"Mother probably wasn't an alcoholic, because she did quit her habit as she became older. She stopped drinking on her own, but she drank most of the time as far back as I can recall," Phyllis added.

"I just don't know whether she ever knew her husband Forrest was abusing me.  She never, ever talked about anything to me. She did not explain her own behavior, her absences, nor her treatment of us children. I never asked her, and I guess I thought it was a way of life, and I really knew nothing more. I was at the Ramey Home for short time, maybe two years from 1944 to 1946,  so I had no opportunity to know how to compare my life with what was normal, until I was older."

Phyllis continued,

"I was little, maybe three years old when they took us to the Ramey Home. I remember two things:  the picture of Rev. Pierce on the wall at the entrance, and I remember sitting in a baby crib, crying and feeling scared, and that my sister Marjorie came over to comfort me."

"Ronnie, our little brother, was less than a year old, when we were taken to the Ramey Home, and he went to live with the Walker family in Mossy Bottom in Westwood part of Ashland. At that same time, Ralph and Virginia went to live at Worthington in Greenup county.  Only Marjorie, Darlene and I were at the Ramey Home after that. Ralph and Virginia stayed with us at the Ramey Home, at the beginning for about one week, and went on to live at the Fields farm.  I understand they had a hard life there."

"Our birth father Albert Waugh deserted us all in 1943 before Ronnie was even born.  To add hurt to me especially, they say he claimed I was not his child because I had type A blood and the other children had type O. Can you imagine repeating such ignorance to his own children?" Phyllis asked.

"I don't remember him saying this. I was too little, but it was told to me.  Our birth parents were not physically cruel to us, just the usual discipline I suppose, except for their total neglect of us. Our father abandoned our mother and all of us, when we were little, and moved off to Georgia on his construction job.  It was too much for our mother. She'd had six babies in nine years," Phyllis concluded.

"Of course, our mother Magdalena, who was only age 15 when she married Albert, was bereft as our parent. She never wanted us, and for good reason too, because she began to know she could not cope. Except for Ralph and Virginia who endured the Fields family, we three girls were better off at the Ramey Home if we'd been left there. Years later when I understood Mother relented and gathered us up as a condition that Forrest Roberts would marry her; that it was only upon his insistence that we all come together, she came at last for Darlene and Marjorie and me at the Ramey Home, and brought Ralph and Virginia from the Fields farm, and Ronnie from foster care with the Walker family; it was then our lives became even more bewildering.   We discovered a new kind of pain and abuse.

Right after we left the Ramey Home we went to live with Forest's parents in Ashland. At some point, mid summer of 1948, they took us to Baltimore. It was from there Ralph joined the Army to get away, and Darlene went back to Kentucky to marry. I remember, we lived on Baltimore street. I attended school for the first time at Homestead. I never returned to Kentucky," Phyllis's lilting, melodious voice belied the words of her story.

"Our birth father, Albert Waugh died in Georgia. After he left his first wife, Alice Scott and his children with her, and then abandoned our mother, Magdalena and her six children, I understand he married twice more. Phyllis murmured, "I did not attend his funeral. He was a stranger. It was an inexplicable situation," her voice tapered off.

"After our mother, Magdalena divorced Forest Roberts; she married two more times after that. Later we heard Forest moved to Florida where his behavior took on another style of aberration: he took up with our brother Ralph's first wife, Wilhemina Fredricks."

NEXT - Chapter 6 - Marjorie Waugh