My name is Clara Watson.
I was an unwanted child from depressed parents during the early days of the second World War and I was dropped off at the doorstep of St. Peters’ Orphanage for children. As one of countless others before me, I was brought in and raised by the sisters who ran the institution. I didn’t know life beyond the walls of the orphanage.
As time went on, my longing for my parents to come and fetch me grew weaker. Day after day, birthday after birthday, I wished for my parents to burst through the grand doors and bring me home. But of course, my wish, just like every other orphan, never came true. But the Christmas season of ’53 changed all that.
From December 20th to January 10th, foster parents have the opportunity to take in a child for the Christmas holidays. Being one of the older children of the orphanage when the program began in 1952, I was never chosen. There were normally young couples, one-child families or elder couples who took part in the program but there was somebody who didn’t look quite right in this picture. An olive-skinned man, with dark hair, walked about the play room looking, more like scanning, for a child. Being an orphan, I am forced to be open-minded and allowing to let anyone into my life but there was something off-putting about this man who was pacing the tiled floor. He, then, stopped behind Bessie, a 7-year-old orange-haired, freckled-faced, cheerful girl who was painting a picture.
The man tried to be friendly with her by sitting beside her, admiring her portrait, making jokes, introducing himself to her. Once she had finished the painted portrayal of a pig, she turned to him and it would seem that the father-adopted-daughter relationship hit off, almost instantly. No longer than five minutes later, Bessie took the hand of the man and the two headed for the exit. As I was listening to ‘Maybelline’ by this new young singer named Chuck Berry, I watched Bessie and the man cross the room. Just before they left, Sister Florence asked the man to fill out paperwork for taking custody over the child for the holidays.
As Bessie knew she was about to sub-adopted, she rushed around to all her ‘friends’ around the orphanage to say goodbye. The sad truth about being an orphan is that we mustn’t make friends or become too close with fellow children because one day or other, they’ll be gone and we’ll be on our own, again. Of course, I choked up when Bessie said goodbye to me because I remembered the day, when she arrived at the orphanage when she was only two years old. I knew that she’ll only be gone for 30 days but it was still a vast improvement from everybody else in this institution.