Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesdays with Dorothy: Activities in the Community

(This is part of a series. For Table of Contents go here)
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The group homes at St. Andrew’s Foundation offered residents coming out of Partlow State School a place to find a new life for themselves. They had a real house in a real neighborhood. They had opportunity to learn household skills and a chance to gain some work skills. Some parishioners at St. Andrew's may remember Cecil Cruise who lived at the group home and later moved into a supervised apartment. Cecil was an acolyte at St. Andrew’s Church. He took the bus each day to Brookwood Mall where he worked at Jobe Rose Jewelers for many years. Before coming to St. Andrew’s Foundation, Cecil had known nothing but institutional life. He had lived in an orphanage from infancy until his admission to Partlow during childhood.  The Rev. Francis Walter, in his recollections of the St. Andrew’s Foundation, related a very touching story  about how Cecil influenced yet another life and in his own way you could say that Cecil expanded the ministry of St. Andrew's.

The goal of the St. Andrew’s Foundation was to enable its residents to live as independently as possible and to enjoy the normal routines and rhythms of life as set forth in Wolf Wolfensberger's concept of normalization. Dorothy Burdette and Cecil Cruise were among the first to come out of Partlow State School to St. Andrew’s.  In my conversations with Dorothy, she was eager to tell me about the time she spent learning to live and work in the community.  

Today I am sharing some of Dorothy’s memories about learning opportunities and recreational events while she was living at the St. Andrew’s Foundation. Some of the points Dorothy makes here appear to be repetitive because I compiled her recollections from several different conversations.

"At the group homes we were able to go out to the movie theater. I went with Cliff and saw Song of the South. That’s about uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit. And then we went and saw Fantasia. One time we went to see Private Benjamin – Goldie Hawn played in that one. I haven’t been to see a movie in so long now. When we were at the group home they took us out to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That one kind of reminded me of life at Partlow."

"Cliff and I have been friends, I reckon 25 years, and he said that I was the best friend that he had ever had. I really really like to make friends with anybody. I like to meet folks and make friends if they want to be friends.  I met Cliff when I used to go downtown to Adult Basics. Adult Basics was a place where they teach you to read and write.  They tried to teach me how to do arithmetic, but I still couldn’t get nowhere with that. I went down there a good little while. Sometimes we would take the bus down there, and sometime Harry would take me – I liked to go with Harry.  Then I met Cliff. He started teaching at Goodwill and Margaret Maynor was my teacher, I don’t know where she’s at now, and then she turned me over to Cliff, and that’s how I met him.  One time I wanted Cliff to bring me home, I lived at 1116, and he had to go pick up his mother, I think at daycare. He told me that Evelyn was going to take me home. Evelyn kept asking me where I lived and I got aggravated. I said, “Evelyn! I live in a yellow house on Southside, 1116!” I yelled out at her before I even thought of myself. She finally found it.  I don’t know whatever happened to her."    

"I had a little job at Goodwill for about three months, but I didn’t like it.  They put me on one of those jobs sorting out nuts and bolts. I didn’t like that. Then they put me on coat hangers – straightening out coat hangers. After that they moved me to the ironing room, ironing clothes. I liked the ironing room.

"And then there was Occupational Rehab. I went there for about three years and then my time ran out. It was down on 16th avenue. I started going downtown to that class. Sharon and Cliff were our instructors. I stayed friends with Cliff all these years."

"I used to work with Erskin Lewis when he worked at the church. We’d go to St. Stephen’s and downtown to the Carpenter House and over in Mountain Brook to Randolph Realties and all them things. We’d clean houses and offices, and down at the church we’d always clean the recreation hall and the bathroom.  My time was up, and I never did go back no more. Virginia Sherrer kept working there, I haven’t seen her in years and years."

"The hardest part, once I got in the group home, was that I wanted to go out by myself and they wouldn’t allow me to be out by myself. I was wantin’ me a little house somewhere. I thought sure I could find one. I was over there [in the group home] for several years.

*    *    *

Next week: Adventures in Shopping!


For additional Reading:

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