This was our assignment in our class. Write your birth story. Katrina did such an amazing job I asked her to share it with you! Enjoy!
Excerpt from memoir titled “Lessons Learned” by Katrina Bias
It was summertime in Dallas, a week after the Fourth of July. It was 1940, Europe was at war, the United States was still watching. The Depression was over and people were working. The colored community was enjoying the relative prosperity of the post-depression era. Though jobs were hit-or-miss, colored men were thankful for President Roosevelt’s leadership which had led many from the abyss of starvation. The most famous and revered person in the community was Joe Louis, who was in the middle of his fourteen-year reign as Heavyweight Champion of the world. Barbershop talk was about The Champ, Sea Biscuit’s retirement, and the return of the Negro League World Series coming in October. Women’s fashions featured white light-weight dresses, worn below the calf with high heels. The most popular hair-do was the up-sweep, which later became the war-time pompadour.
It was a hot Thursday morning on in Dallas, July 11, 1940. On Eighth Street, Irene and Ulysses were living with Uly’s aunt-mother Aunt Lizzie, in a three-bedroom house, which she had built herself. Aunt Lizzie occupied one of the front bedrooms, and the third room was for visitors and guests.
Uly had just left for work at the fireworks factory which, was winding down the week after the fourth of July Irene awoke, surprised to find that her bed was completely wet. She called to her mother-in-law, Aunt Lizzie , who explained that this meant that her water had broke and the baby was ready to come. Irene was not in pain. She had never had a child, the only thing she knew was the terrible pain the women talked about.
They called the doctors who directed them to prepare sheets, boil water and wait. The pain came. They kept in touch with the doctors all day until the contractions were a few minutes apart, then two doctors from Baylor Medical Hospital came to the house to assist with the delivery.
The baby was small, clean, and pretty. At five and a half pounds she was the perfect weight for a time when women were told to keep their weight down so the baby wouldn’t get to big and tear the uterus. She wasn’t wrinkled, bloody, or full of mucous. Everybody told Irene the baby was perfect.
The doctors instructed her to stay in bed, and not letting her foot touch the floor for fourteen days. This required a bedpan and allowing others to care for the baby except for nursing. Irene did as she was told.
They named her for both grandmothers: Elizabeth Katrina was Uly’s Aunt Lizzie, and Agnorance was Irene’s mother. This was transformed into Katrina Agnorance Davis, the first grandchild on either side.
During Irene’s confinement, Uly did all the cooking. Grandma Ag came into town from the farm to help but didn’t stay long because Papa Charlie claimed he needed her at home. Aunt Lizzie directed the show. There was a little problem with nourishment because Irene was not eating enough. Always a picky eater, she weighed less than one hundred pounds most of her adult life. The baby was hungry before it was time to nurse. The doctor had her add a bottle to supplement the breast feeding. Otherwise, the first weeks were uneventful.
Their first outing came when Katrina was six weeks old. They went to the well-baby clinic on the bus, the fare was 10 cents round trip. The doctor’s visit was 25 cents, only two and a half times the bus fare. But the best part of the trip for Irene was when she treated herself to ten cents’ worth of freshly cooked Spanish peanuts from Woolworth’s, a treat she continued to enjoy until they discontinued the nut counters in the mid fifties.
Irene’s brother, James, lived in Dallas and was the first and most constant visitor. He bought beautiful sundresses for the baby and often took her up the hill, on his shoulders to “show her off” to the other relatives.
She was the focus of attention for eighteen months, until Uly Junior was born. Even with the addition of Sondra, another eighteen months after Uly Junior, she felt loved and special. She had Aunt Lizzie’s heart, as Uly Junior had Irene’s heart, and Sondra had Uly’s heart. It worked out just right: three children and three adults each proclaiming one of them the “special” one. The family of six living together, with each child having a special adult, was to determine Katrina’s foundation and future.
LESSON LEARNED: It’s nice to be first, but feeling that you are special is even better. On the other hand, don’t taunt others with your high regard of your feelings of your own worth—keep it to yourself.
Throughout her life, she enjoyed being the first, the pride of all the grandparents and relatives, arriving before any of the siblings or any cousins. As the oldest of three , she liked always nice to be in charge; even if it had the burden of being called “bossy” or “know-it-all”, they still listened.