Surprise Gifts

We moved to Atlanta in September of 1972. I was about 2 months pregnant. with my second daughter. Jim had been talking about moving south and my sister lived in Atlanta so that is where we went. We moved into a two family house not too far from my sister’s house.

I worked at the Institute of the Black World (IBW). Part of the statement of purpose of IBW read: “The Institute of the Black World is a gathering of black intellectuals who are convinced that the gifts of their minds are meant to be fully used in the service of the black community. It is therefore an experiment with scholarship in the context of struggle.” 

I, however, was hired to do clerical work and was not a member of the intellectual staff. I typed, organized a small library, ran off the IBW newsletter on their  table top printing press, helped with mailings and sometimes transcribed tapes. The in-house staff was small, less than ten people.  When the Watergate Hearings started, we worked around the conference table as often as possible to enable us to watch the hearings on TV.  Sometimes educational meetings were called when interesting people came to town. They talked to us about the struggle in their part of the world.

While I worked my two year old daughter Jilo attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Preschool. It was several blocks from IBW and had an afro-centric curriculum. Ruth, a fellow employee at IBW, drove by our house on her way to work. She picked us up each morning.  From work I walked Jilo to school.  After several days of crying when I dropped her off, my daughter settled in and seemed to enjoy the program.

One evening when I thought I was going to dinner at friends. When my co-workers yelled “Surprise!” and it turned out to be a baby shower! Some of the gifts I received were:

Orange bib
baby carrier Leah & Stanley
Diaper bag – Karen & AB
Sheets,pad – Shirley
$30 – Bill
Lotion set – Cheryl
Baby sak set – Ferrell
Baby sak set – Ruth
Nightgowns Pat & Sharon
Baby gift set – Louise
Blanket, clothes, plus – Pearl and Michael
Green sleep suit – Myrdal
Baby clothes – Carolyn & Terri

Me opening gifts at my baby shower

Three days before the birth, it felt like it was time to stop working. I mostly slept  those three days. Ife was delivered at Holy Family Hospital, with Dr. Borders in attendance. It was a natural birth and Jim was there.  All went well. Ife was a big baby and fussier than Jilo had been. She went to sleep best when Stevie Wonder was singing “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.

Click for more sepia saturday posts.

Related Links

Ife’s Birth
2600 Cascade Road SW
Babies In Buggies

21 thoughts on “Surprise Gifts

  1. Ify had good taste in music! Glad her birth went the way your planned it. And obviously you kept a list (diary perhaps?) of the gifts at the shower. Very organized. I often worked in places where I’d like to have been a member, but just did the administrative assistant tasks. Sometimes I’d overstep my bounds. I had several temp jobs that they offered to turn into permanent positions. But my sights were set a bit higher still. I finally was able to go back to college and finish.

    1. I wrote the list of gifts in her baby book. Luckily I remembered I did because I didn’t remember anything except the $30 because, I guess, as one of the intellectuals, Bill hadn’t been invited to the shower and I think he was a little miffed, and gave me the money in a card that had a note added “And you don’t have to name them after me.” In a joking way. I looked for the card but can’t find it. It’s got to be around here somewhere. Maybe it’s with the baby book which I just gave to Ife.
      I’d already finished college, but when my husband said I could stay home and he’d support us, I gave my notice. I worked from home for eight weeks or so and after I went back to the office, Jim kept Ife for a few days and made me the offer. He got a job printing soon after.

  2. Great blog post mommy! The pictures are fantastic, they really bring the story to life. I’m so serious opening that present. If you had it to do over, just from 1973 forward, do you think we’d have stayed in Atlanta?

    1. The pictures were scanned from slides. I don’t know who or why slides were taken, but that’s why they are sort of weird.
      If we’d stayed here, it would have been a different life for sure. Boggles the mind!

  3. Well done for having a good match for our open theme this weekend. I wonder if Stevie Wonder ever learned his song became a lullaby. It’s one of the special powers of music that it can put people asleep.

  4. Wonderful “Surprise Gifts” for sure. I had three such gifts – two of them were truly surprises – one by 2 1/2 weeks, the other by 5 weeks! My one full-term babe, in comparison, seemed to hang in there forever. Even during labor she was kicking and squirming her way out of position. The Dr. & nurses were laughing saying she sure didn’t want to leave her nice warm comfy place. After 19 hours of labor, however, I didn’t think it was quite so funny! 🙂

      1. that makes me glad that this prompt found it’s way to you so that we could get the snapshot of this memory. grateful for the pictures and (as always) your vivid and clear storytelling skills which are truly transportive

        1. Abeo! I’m so glad to see you here and commenting too. It was such a long time ago, I hadn’t thought about it until I saw the prompt and it reminded me of me opening the gifts.Your mother didn’t remember it. Not surprising as she was only 2 and a half. I wonder what Pearl can remember?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.