Janet Wilson : A Place I Call Home

Janet Wilson : A Place I Call Home

“Rough not knowing you why we were there.. and when we were going to leave…¨ says Janet Wilson, when asked about her past experience, growing up in the Paradise Friendly Home. The Paradise Friendly Home was an orphanage that consisted of over 300-400 children, from very young toddlers – to seventeen-year-olds. Janet Wilson, my grandmother, describes how she dealt with the situation and how she personally thought of the orphanage, she and her younger brothers called ¨home¨.

When given this assignment, I was excited to interview my grandmother, due to the fact that I knew that she had an interesting backstory. Janet Wilson was taken away from her mother when she was very young, as well as her younger brothers. ¨We got taken away from our mom when I was around four or five, that’s when my aunt Armeda and her Husband Jessie, who was my dad’s sister-took us in for about two years,¨ says, Janet.

She shared that her Mother, (Farrydean) became a really bad alcoholic and her Dad (Dees) passed away from lung cancer when she was very little; she had no remembrance of him, just of what her older sister told her. When asked why she couldn’t just stay with her aunt instead of being grouped, she replied ¨aunt Armeda said that it was hard to financially take care of us, and I think the system decided to just send us off..¨ This is when social services stepped in and later sent them to The Paradise Friendly Home.

Janet and her brothers are the ones sitting on the bottom role- to the right.

A few of the many questions that I had were ¨Who were the advisors, how were the housing, schooling, and transportation?¨ Leslie Murdock and Thelma Murdock- who was his wife, were the founder and operators of the Paradise Friendly Home- located at their home in Bell-City, Ky, From 1951 to 1977. My grandmother says that she and the other children referred to them as Mr. Murdock and Mrs. Murdock. The Paradise Friendly Home also had matrons, which were older women that helped maintain the children. When questioned about the advisors- she shared, ¨They were really kind people, it wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. People have to understand that they were a true blessing for taking, caring, and loving us like their own when nobody else would. I couldn’t imagine what would’ve happened to me and my brothers if Mr. Murdock and Mrs. Murdock didn’t take us in, god blessed us with really good people. At least we had a place to call home.¨

This building is where all of the girls stayed.

From what my grandmother explained, the housings were a bit different from your regular family houses. Janet stated, ¨The boys had their own housing which was a long building, the girls had a two-story building, which also included the cafeteria and laundry room. Each housing had big walk-in bathrooms like locker rooms – but without the lockers, and stall showers with of course toilets.” My grandmother explained that the buildings had lots of rooms. The older children got their own rooms and the younger children were grouped in the big rooms, which had lots of beds for each of them.

¨When it was time to eat, they rang a big great bell, which let everyone know it was time to eat.¨ She carried on to explain that she and the other children were provided with breakfast and supper each morning and night and ate lunch at school. She also included that their way of getting back and forth to places was a long white -school like bus. Moving forward, I was curious to ask about chores.. she stated that they had chores assigned to each kid, and since she was younger, she just had to clean the water faucets and do easy things around the house. The other children were in charge of laundry, sweeping, and cleaning the cafeteria.

This is a picture of their Christmas tree.

As I interviewed my grandmother, I noticed that there was one uncertain topic that she was not so intrigued to talk about, which was school. She continued by saying ¨We went to Sedalia Elementary School, and the other kids picked on us… More less bullied us for being orphans and how we were raised.¨

Her sister Linda signed Janet Wilson and her younger brothers out of the orphanage when she was thirteen- years old. Janet claimed that when her sister signed her out of the orphanage, she had no knowledge of who she was. Due to the fact that her sister was thirteen- years older than her. ¨After my sister signed us out of the home, about 6 months later- I wanted to go back and see my friends, so my sister took me. When I got there, I was excited to see my friends and for some reason, it felt more like home than home itself. But my sister Linda never took me back to visit…because I told her I wanted to go back and live there and she wouldn’t let me.¨ Janet Wilson is now thriving at 65 years old and is happily living with her partner. She is doing very well and living her life to the fullest.