The Beginning 1922–1930 Helen, Age 1 to 8
My parents were not prepared emotionally or financially to handle the responsibilities of a rapidly growing family. They were very poor and by the time they had been married eleven years they had five children. I was born on October 7, 1922 , in Waseca , Minnesota , to Harold Hoover and Fern Davidson. Waseca is a small town about seventy-five miles from Minneapolis , Minnesota . My parents would be gone for weeks at a time and leave my four brothers and I home alone. Someone, perhaps from our school, reported our situation to the authorities. I don’t remember very much about these early days, but I do recall the day the social worker came out to our basement apartment and found us sitting on the floor eating raw potatoes. This was the only food in the apartment. The social worker took us from the apartment and put us in a private orphanage. That’s when I entered a very dark tunnel, the tunnel where I would spend a good share of my life.
Ward of the State 1930–1936 Helen Age, 8 to 14
Orphanage records say that on April 3, 1930 , my brothers and I were brought to United Charities in St. Paul , Minnesota . I have no memory of this happening. According to the records we were only there a short time before we were sent out to different places to live. At this time I was eight years old and my family consisted of two older brothers, Donald, age twelve and crippled in both legs by infantile paralysis (polio), and Harold, age eleven. My two younger brothers were Leslie, also called Jack, age seven, and Richard, and also called Dick, age four. M y mother’s parents, who were living in South Dakota , said they would take my brother Jack. I have never been able to figure out their reasoning on this. I could see why they didn’t want Donald because he was crippled. And if they wanted someone to work on their farm, then wouldn’t they take Harold, who was older? If cuteness counted, then take the little one, Dick. Some things remain a mystery. Harold and Dick were sent to the orphanage and Donald went to Gillette Children’s Hospital. I was sent to live with my uncle.
My first memories of this time are when I met this strange man who told me I should call him Uncle Harry. He was my father’s brother. The records indicate there had been several discussions between my father and his brother and wife about them wanting me.