Sometime in the 1990s, Teresa Martin agreed to talk about her life as a Mail-Order Kid to the members of the Helios Club in Hill City, Kansas.
In a speech often punctuated with laughter, Teresa describes a varied existence that led her from New York to Kansas to Denver and back. She outlines the forces that created the orphan train movement, explaining why orphanages transported so many children like herself from New York to a new life with strangers.
Teresa narrates how, as a young woman, she worked in various homes as a “Little Orphan Annie,” cleaning the commode or taking care of children.
She relates how hatred of geometry forced her to marry. After her husband’s health declined, she became the breadwinner for their family, including two daughters, Mildred and Doris.
Teresa describes how she had to learn to type to hold her Hays Public Library job. She worked and studied part-time until she completed high school and college, by then a grandmother.
With the help of her daughter Doris, who sits beside her mother as she speaks at the Helios Club, Teresa unexpectedly found her relatives. They included a woman who sounded just like Teresa when she spoke.
Teresa’s fifty-minute Helios Club speech, which includes a question-and-answer session, was videotaped and will be available here as a free DVD download.