In the 1970s, Beatrice Maxwell Wilson (1927-1983) wrote short memoir pieces about her childhood in Missouri and her teen years in Louisville. She assembled her memories into a booklet called “The Maxwell Connection,” which was donated to the Historical Museum. Here are her memories of going to high school and her work as a telephone operator in Louisville during the World War II era. She married Ralph Wilson in 1948.
unior High was a drag – I was ugly and stupid and acted that way. We moved a lot when I was growing up, and each year found me enrolling in a new school. One year I was in a one-room school in rural Missouri and another year in a large Denver grade school, with all sizes and shapes in between. My third grade was different because there was a fire in the school so we had class in the basement of a church. None of this is relevant except that junior high fit into a long-established pattern of a new building, a new teacher, and new classmates. All of which meant misery for me.
My brother, Lee, went to a different school, so once again I was alone and miserable. I had no talent to speak of, nothing to make the kids like me. I withdrew into the world of books. I read every Nancy Drew mystery and dreamed of being just like her. I moved on to reading Kathleen Norris books because the characters went through terrible experiences, but by the end of her books, everything was all right. Also, the main character was always beautiful. When my father caught me reading “True Story Magazine,” he told me not to waste my time on trash and gave me The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. My reading changed after that and Twain became my idol.
My attitude changed about the time I finished the eighth grade. My father was a minister on Sundays. He worked in a garage the rest of the week. He started preaching in the Baptist Church in Louisville at this time and thought Louisville would be a nice place to live. Our family was welcomed by most of the community because usually the pastor lived in Denver and commuted on Sunday.
Story by Beatrice Maxwell and adapted by Bridget Bacon, Museum Coordinator