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My Father Left Us at the Orphanage [Guest post by Marge Thompson]

March 16, 2019

Another Way for week of March 15, 2019

No, this photo is not from Marge’s family, but a picture of my mother and her siblings from approximately the same era. Can we imagine dropping such tykes off at an orphanage?

My Father Left Us at the Orphanage

Guest Column by Marge Thompson

Editor’s note: Marge Thompson, 87, reads Another Way in The Goshen News, Ind., and wanted to share her story to help other struggling teens or families.

All was quiet as we rode down the dirt road not knowing where my Dad was taking my three brothers, my two sisters, and me, Marge. As we grew closer to the orphanage, I knew something wasn’t right. I sat in the back with my brothers and sisters, holding back tears and hoping we’d go right past the orphanage. He began to slow down. I knew all hope was gone. My brothers and sisters had no idea what was happening. I was the oldest, 11, and my sister, the youngest, was just two. As we got out, I felt as if a ton of weight was on my shoulders. At home I took care of my brothers and sisters and did lots of chores, but I didn’t mind.

As I watched him pull away, I felt more than anger or even hatred. I wanted to kill my parents, but I looked at my brothers and sisters and thought, “I’ve got to be strong.” I was so young,  asking, “Why me? Oh, God, why me?”

The nuns at the orphanage gave us clothes and showed us where to change and get washed up. The boys were in another part of the orphanage. When we came downstairs, I walked towards the boys and a nun stopped me and said, “No. You stay over here. They will be taken care of.”

I was so angry I just wanted to cry; no—kill. I just stood there in a daze, wondering, what did I do wrong? Is this my fault? My mom had lots of problems. She was basically insane and she might have hurt us. My dad was always gone drinking and a very handsome man.

The next day at the orphanage a girl was bugging my brothers. So I yelled at her to stop but she didn’t. I ran over and started hitting and saying, “How do you like it? How does it feel?” When I looked up, there were two nuns standing over me. I knew I was in BIG trouble. As one leaned down to grab my arm, I started to run. There was nowhere to go. I was trapped like an animal in a cage. I felt sick, and wanted to get away. I wanted to go home to my mom. The nun came closer and closer. I did what any normal kid would do. I started to scream and cry. She grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. Then she took me to my room and said “There will be no supper for you. Now think about what you’ve done.” So I thought about how I was going to get out of there—every day.

One winter when I was 13 or 14, I wanted to go ice skating; I got my skates and went out. I wasn’t supposed to, but did anyhow. When I was skating, I felt so free. I could have skated for hours, but it wasn’t long before one of the “penguins” as we called the nuns, came and dragged me into a huge room where the nuns dined and said, “Okay, you don’t want to listen, then we’ll play your way. You start scrubbing the dining room.” They decided I was getting older so they put me in an actual convent at 16.

I worked there for a year but one day got on a bus to South Bend where my mother lived, and stayed with her. I was trying to go to Riley High School and my mom became abusive. When I came home from school, she was gone. Someone had taken her to a mental hospital. The people she rented from told me and said I had to go back to the orphanage. I began to cry. Her landlords went to court to get custody of me. I was a sophomore in high school and worked at Bonnie Doon’s on weekends as a car hop. The woman made me give her ten dollars a week and I had to clean the house and pay for everything myself.

At Bonnie Doon’s I met my future husband at the age of 17. The lady told me I couldn’t go out with him because he was 24 and too old for me. She had a daughter she thought would be better for him. One night I came in at 1:30 and the lady told me I had to move. So I quit school to work full time. My future husband wanted to marry me, but I didn’t want him to marry me out of pity so I said no.

So we waited a year. We got married in 1950 when I was 18, almost 19, and Paul was 26. I’m 87 now and never forgot my background. There’s much more to my story but I’m thankful for my granddaughter who wrote this down for a class project. I’ve always wanted to help other troubled teens, and let them know: you can survive.


If you wish to respond to Marge’s story, send letters or email and I will see that she gets them. Send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  





  1. How wonderful your grand-daughter wrote this down for a class project. Marge, I hope you can collaborate with your this sweet girl to write more stories of your family history, a treasure trove. The fact that you pushed against oppression (like the penguins!) tells me that you have the guts to persist in writing. You are a great storyteller.

    • Thanks for your comment, especially this time, Marian. I know Marge will enjoy hearing from any and all readers. Blessings!

  2. martyw37 permalink

    That was a real tear- jerker ,but I appreciated Marge’s honesty and her encouragement to those who may be going through difficulties

    • Marty, I agree, it was stunning to me the first time I read it. I do hope it speaks to any going through tough times in their families.

  3. What a special story that makes you ache and want to go hug and hold that little girl from the past. Marge has a lot of inner strength that has carried her through the years. I am touched that she shared her story with us.

    • Yes, I hear you, on Marge’s inner strength, and wanting to go hug that little girl from the past. Thanks for your comment here. I will be copying these comments to send to her as promised.

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