January 19, 2019

One Scared Teen

One Scared Teen
Gloria Wandless

Gloria WandlessMy teenage years (13-18) were different from others. At age 13 mother died in an accident which was tragic for her as well as me—my loving supportive mama was gone. The next day Mrs Packey called me aside and asked, “Gloria if someone came to you and posed this question. “If I set you up in a hat shop, and you agreed to do everything the way I tell you, I promise to make your hat shop a great success. Would you do it?” With all of my 13 year old maturity I answered, “of course”. She said, “Gloria that is what God is asking of you…your life is that hat shop.” As the years went by I came to understand what she meant.

I went to live with an aunt which for two years. It was dreadful but at school life was wonderful. I soon learned to be involved at school, and church took me away from the bad situation at home. I had fun times, held offices in four clubs at school and the youth group at church. I refereed basketball and volleyball, attended “Teen Town” weekly, went to all the formal dances, and dated—one fellow for a long time. When he began to talk about what our “married life” would be like I knew that was the end of him. I was 15, he was 18 and graduating; he was serious but scared the bejeebers out of me…that was not the life I wanted.

A few months later my situation at home grew worse and my attorney realized I needed to leave. The next place was different but in other ways, worse. My girlfriend’s mother suggested I go the the YWCA for help; which I did…on my own. Within a week the Y, my lawyer, the president of the bank, a lady who was to become my personal guardian, and the director of the place where I was to live had formulated a plan for me. The plan was rushed through and approved by the court.

I moved to live independently into a huge boarding house called the “Beulah Club.” The “Club” accommodated 100 girls who worked full time and were over 18…all…except me. I was the youngest in the history of the Beulah Club at age 16 to be allowed to live there. I knew how fortunate I was. My first night in my new room I remember being scared but happy. I was determined not to do anything to get put out of this lovely place. The Club had rules; more restricted for me also knowing I had to set rules for myself as well. I remember talking to myself about how I could not have social friends outside of school. I knew, kids do things that cause them to be grounded. For me, I would lose my home.

The women I lived with became my friends. I stepped into the adult world; watching and listening. My friends were mostly teachers. I lived with my tutors, learned to apply make-up from Miss Illinois, learned fashion, grooming, etiquette, and manners from the professional women with whom I shared the dinner table. The table talk was about their lives, the world. I was a sponge absorbing all around me. I had no one to boss me, no one to tell me to take a bath, get up or go to bed, do my homework, buy my clothes, pay my bills, do my laundry, I set the rules for myself and did it all. I had a job, went to school, and church on Sunday…did the right thing and learned a LOT. Watching the results of bad choices that was wrecking lives of some around me. I learned from their mistakes.

I was choosing my path in life…talking to God for the answers to questions as there was no one else to ask and getting answers. Mrs Packey’s question posed to me at 13 made sense. My life was going good, my hat shop was succeeding. I was “reared” by the hand of God in many ways. I was fortunate…so we began a lifelong dialogue.

Some people call it prayer.

I had become close to the grandma that lived next door to the Club. Shortly after I turned 18, her granddaughter married. Grandma asked me to move into her room—I had a family, a grandma, 2 brothers, a mom and a dad and a dog. Life was good; now an adult at the end of my teenage years. Teen years that were different from most but wonderfully rich and happy in many ways.