On this day in 1935, my dad was born in a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers called the Door of Hope in Ocean Beach, a suburb of San Diego. The building still stands. I believe it is some kind of restaurant/bar at the moment.
My grandmother was a self-reliant person. She had to be. She grew up without her natural mother who died when she was only 3 mos old. On a visit to California at about the age of 15 (when her family visited relatives living there), she refused to return home. Until then she had been enslaved by her step-mother in a Rayon factory in Asheville North Carolina.
My dad’s father was a much older man married to an even older woman who was a private nurse by profession. I doubt my grandmother knew the man was married when she started seeing him in La Jolla CA. She most likely knew it by the time she knew she was pregnant. It is just a likely he never knew he had become a father.
What is clear is that my grandmother didn’t run around with every Tom, Dick and Harry. She clearly knew who my father’s dad was and although she gave my dad her maiden surname, she left us breadcrumbs as to his father’s identity – both in how she named my dad after the man as well as placing a head shot of the man with his name on the back right next to a photo of her holding my dad.
They are seated on the front porch of another Salvation Army home for unwed mother’s that she was hired at in El Paso Texas. That is how my dad got there and eventually was adopted from there when he was about 8 mos old.
Note on image –
In 1915, the Door of Hope, a home for unwed mothers, was built on a 10-acre site in Ocean Beach’s Collier Park. Initially operated by the Sand Diego Rescue Mission, it was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1931. In 1962, the Door of Hope moved to a much larger facility in Kearny Mesa.