Debby Summey: For Lucy the outcast
Months ago, when I was researching material for another column, I stumbled across a letter published in the Georgetown Times on June 18, 1913.
I saved it – I knew that one day I’d want to pay tribute to Lucy, the young woman who wrote it, and to our local newspaper for printing it.
The paper titled it, “From Which to View a Problem – A Woman’s Story”. Except for presenting it in shorter paragraph form, I’m copying it exactly as it was first printed over 100 years ago.
“To the Time: Why are we here?
“My beginning: I was an adopted child raised in the country with country teaching; never seen a town larger than Sampit until I was fourteen years of age. My adopted mother and father then put me out to earn my own lively hood.
“I found my employment in a _____ family, good people but people who looked at a dollar as if it was heaven, because they were trying to raise in the world.
“I received a salary of one dollar a week. My duty was to do the cooking of the meals, cleaning the house, dressing the two children twice a day, and of course if I had spare time, ‘Lucy, wash out the baby’s things and press these two or (?) thing’s’ amounting to about twenty pieces. Then of course I had the pleasure of taking the children out in the go-cart in the evenings.
“My duty’s of course in my employees eyes were very small comparing my large salary. Of course if I cared to I could take some of my mistresses’ old clothes and pay her half my wages a week untilled payed for.
“And the most surprising thing, I was only called a ‘servant’ in the present of callers and in speaking of their servant being very ready to work ‘if I just tire myself out keeping after her,’ which was the case.
“I seen my mistress at meal time, all told, three or four times every twenty-four hours, but thing’s sounded better the other way, and I had no say in the matter. Didn’t I get my dollar a week?
“In winter I could use the kitchen for my caller if I wanted to; in sumer I could, after bathing the children and feeding the baby, dress myself and if my caller choosed to come and wait at the gate for me, it was all right for me to go out.
“What did I see ahead of me? Space; nothing but slavery! What could I expect? No one to advice, no one to tell me the goodly and useful thing’s I could do; my youth taken up, my coming womanhood bound in a web and network.
“I then taken down sick. I must go, for the new hired girl must have my little hall soon. No it was not the kitchen cot. I go to a place where I am told by a young man I can get every care, a Dr. and comfortable bed. I went. I got all the thing’s he told me about.
“And here I am, defenseless, throwed from pillow to post. Who wants to give me employment? And know of my past?
“All law abiding citizens, don’t through your hands up in horror.”
The letter was signed, “An Outcast”.
I don’t know who Lucy was.
Obviously, she was born in the late 1800’s and lived in a rural area near the Sampit community of Georgetown County.
She seems to be intelligent and somewhat educated, in spite of the misspelled words and poor grammar.
When she talks of going away to a place where she can “get every care, a Dr. and comfortable bed,” she is probably referring to the Poor House, which was located in a rural area and funded by Georgetown County.
I hope that Lucy found happiness and comfort as she grew older.
If anyone has information about her, please let me know.
Note: In last week’s column, I failed to mention four very important people in Sandra Grant’s life: her brother, Lee, and sister, Kay, who grew up with her in Andrews, and her two sons, W. Thomas Rabon and Ronald M. Rabon.
To the Georgetown Times ... thanks for the memories.
I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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