Molly Conn Wiley and R. Reese Fuller

Recorded February 21, 2007 Archived February 21, 2007 00:00 minutes
Audio not available

Interview ID: MBY002448


Molly recalls her experience in a home for unwed mothers in the late 1960s, the death of her father and the death of her second husband.

Subject Log / Time Code


  • Molly Conn Wiley
  • R. Reese Fuller

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:04 My name is Reese Fuller. I'm 33 years old and today is Wednesday, February 21st. 2007 Ash Wednesday, and we're in Lafayette, Louisiana. And I am going to be interviewing my mother. I'm her son.

00:24 A Malik on Wylie. I'm 57 years old today is still February 21st 2007 and we are in Lafayette, Louisiana and my son will be interviewing me. I'm his mother.

00:39 I want to talk about some things. I want to get straight in my head for first of all, how old was I when we lived in Rhode going we live in that little trailer cuz I have memories of then I don't I can't even remember how old I possibly could have been.

00:56 Ballpark

01:02 You must have been about three or four, but we live there a couple of different times. So because we left the trailer there in would move away your Dad's job with the railroad heading traveling a lot. So we moved around a little bit and so we live there couple of different times.

01:21 What did you and Dad divorce?

01:25 1981 Louisiana you had to be separated for a full year before you can get a divorce. And what was the reason why why did you get divorced?

01:39 Differences of opinions. I think we were separated because of his job for about a year, and he would he lived in Houston. We lived in Pineville, Louisiana, and he would come back every other weekend and after about a year things have been Rocky for a long time, but I think I realized that he and I had very different opinions on child-rearing. We were just going different directions in our lives and I think it was just time just time.

02:12 Do You Feel Like You Raised Me and Todd and Jennifer by yourself

02:22 Sometimes because he and I did have different points of view and because he was going a lot.

02:32 And he and I both were so young. We started having children, you know, we didn't really spend enough time figuring out how how to be parents before we were just we were parents.

02:47 Yeah, it's been a lot of time with you guys by myself, but he had had some influence when y'all were younger.

02:55 Since I'm a parent now, what would be your best advice to me on parenting?

03:01 Oh be consistent.

03:04 Consistently good are consistently bad, but we can say no when you're wrong listen to your mother and a sister hate you just be consistent. I mean, you know the right thing to do so just have to stick with it because those little buggers are there tough and they're they're resilient and they can wear you down pretty Fit Fast don't they but how do you handle the Tantrums? What do you do about that?

03:31 Oh, I'm leaving the house. I mean.

03:36 Well, I never had the courage to do it, but I knew a lady that.

03:41 Just lay out in the middle of the store and Pitch one herself and her kid never through and having another tantrum.

03:49 And when my youngest kids were Junior High age and they would pick it each other and fight and Walmart. I would threaten to sing and they shut up pretty quickly, but Tantrums art of coffee. Just have to

04:04 Be patient be consistent put him in timeout or

04:09 Now try a picture when yourself sometimes that works. I don't know.

04:14 Would you mind singing Me a Lullaby used to sing in Ethiopia and the real lord and I try to sing it to Henry and I can't even.

04:28 I don't even know what the title of it is. I've tried to find it and books I try to find the lyrics online, but I don't even know what the title of it is. Well, I actually found the song one time in a song book and and handle and you know, like all things you don't think about you think this will be here forever. And then course they tore that church down in that that book is gone. But that's the only copy of every cent of it. We called it mama song because my paternal grandmother who we called Mama Sang it to us. That's where my mother learned it and that grandmother died when I was 4 but I can remember her singing it and then my mother sang it to us, but we always called him I'm also and I'm sure you can one reason you can't find his cuz we probably change the lyrics it's the lyrics are about maybe going to buy lowland. But since we live in Louisiana, we kind of change it to Bayou because a lot of people call a by you

05:28 In the rural areas that call at the Bayou or Bayou.

05:31 And we always put the baby's name in there, but I'm a few bars is very short. I'll sing it for Henry Henry's go into by lowland going to see the site. So grand out of the sky the Wii Stars peep. Looking to see him fast asleep swings by Moe. Henry is going to buy Olin swing some by Henry's going to buy your land.

06:17 Course after assignment for

06:19 Several minutes many times I would fall asleep for the baby did it because it goes nothing like that at all the words of the same but I don't have to learn it is final story before he goes to bed. I find the end of kind of fall asleep. Like I got to finish this story before.

06:51 What kind of?

06:53 I hope people will your parents tell me about your mom and dad.

07:02 Very loving parents

07:06 They both work very very hard. My father died when I was young. I was only I think 14 he was only 45 and Daddy was the baby of think six children and he came from a very loving family that everybody in that family has a nickname. They love children. They when they would get together. They were just so precious with their children. They're still like that my cousins that I see sometimes I just they love kids and but Daddy had that he was the only one I think of his family who was in World War II he spent three years in the Philippines and lost a leg and the other foot I was full of shrapnel. So he spent a lot of my life in VA hospitals having surgery, you know, like every couple years that have a surgery on the Good Foot and he also,

08:06 About diabetes and heart trouble. I had I don't know 234 heart attacks before he finally died and actually died of us. We will Hemorrhage I think his obituary had a heart attack, but it wasn't he died of cerebral hemorrhage.

08:22 An

08:24 I never knew that.

08:28 One of my mother's cousins.

08:32 For some reason I don't know if she worked for the VA. I'm not exactly sure why she pushed Mama to do this, but I'm very grateful that she did she got Mama to go before the VA to write letters and things and they did some investigations and they decided that Daddy because of the way he had to walk all those years from his injuries that that's what it called caused his death and because of that my brother and I were able to go College VA benefits. That's what paid for a college education cuz I decided that his death was related and daddy was a hundred percent disabled. He would never take a disability check because if he did that meant he couldn't work through it and he came from the old school. He said I'm not not going to work and he worked every day of his life. He did several different things of the last thing that he did when

09:32 When he died, he was selling life insurance. He was a very good. In fact, I think he was the first one of his policyholders to die. One thing. I remember that Daddy when I was little bitty. We had a Breezeway on the back of the house is screened in porch and daddy work for Cleco Ville local electric company and I can remember this vision of all these lamps on the Breezeway because what they were doing is they were going out into the rural areas and they would give people a pair of table lamps if they would sign up to buy Logistics people have electricity out in the in the country and I actually have one of those lamps cuz he signed his mother daddy up for electricity and your sister Jennifer has that lamp is pink and blue. It's really atrociously hugley. But my mother was also very hardworking. She came from a large family of 12 kids and

10:31 She was a workaholic. I can remember I don't even think I could walk yet and but I knew how to polish wood floors and they had to get that Johnson floor wax out of the cannon scrub that floor and she worked real hard in the house. And then after Daddy had a couple of heart attacks when I was in the fourth grade. She went to work at Guaranty Bank in Pineville and work there for 25-30 years before she retired she retired as a loan officer, and she

11:02 And she was very loving person. She lived in to be what 81 and she died in 2003. She lives a long time without Daddy and they were very loving parents that they did everything in a provided for us without spoiling us. I didn't spoil us.

11:19 They're good people daddy with musician.

11:22 And used to laugh at mama. He said he was too the only person he knew who could sing completely off key and a total different key from everybody else and she never realized it and the first time they met

11:37 He was playing somewhere some club. I'm not sure where and I hate to ask a friend of his he said go over there and ask that woman to marry me and knows mama and you know, they did eventually get married.

11:51 Had me and my brother.

11:54 Tell me about

11:57 Well when you were growing up, you said something to me about this once a long time ago when you were growing up. Did you always want to be a school teacher?

12:07 No, I liked school. I think I always want to be a student. I love learning. I love being in school and

12:16 And when I was in high school and Inter from my upbringing and little town, I grew up in in my parents background mostly women or either you become a teacher or you become a nurse and since I pass out at the sight of needles that teacher was The Logical Choice, which was what I thought I want to do because I love school and I still like school. I wish that I had pursued something else more artistic, even if it was still being education feel but you know, I like what I do. I love I love teaching English.

12:59 But I just wish that I've had a more well-rounded education because for instance when I was in high school, I didn't take any art classes because I took band and that took up some of the you know, which I enjoy the music but I would like to know more about art.

13:18 Playing the bassoon hasn't come in real Handy in my life.

13:36 Tell me about my oldest brother.

13:40 Well, what did what what can I tell you? I don't.

13:45 There's not much to know about him because I didn't know him.

13:50 I didn't know much about him.

13:55 I only saw him once I held him one time for a few minutes about probably less than 10 minutes.

14:03 An arm

14:06 You know mostly all I can tell you is about my pregnancy with him.

14:11 And the times back then about having to give him up and then about the search for him again and losing him again.

14:22 I got pregnant very young. Actually, probably the month after graduate from high school.

14:31 I spent a few months and what I guess we called unwed mothers home. I didn't spend the entire time and then turn on once there, but I spent a few months there in Texas because back then.

14:49 Abortion was illegal.

14:53 You couldn't do that when you could get an abortion. I don't know that I would have had an abortion. I just I just do know that it was illegal to the word. Lots of unwed mother homes back then it was something people didn't talk about at all.

15:06 And I think I've mentioned to you before that. My mother at one point said something to me that you know, in 25 years. This won't make a difference in 25 years. They'll be a lot of people who are not married who have children, but that was almost 40 years ago now.

15:25 It did make a difference.

15:29 I never tell the father that I was pregnant. So that was not an option of marrying. So I went to an unwed mothers home. And I don't know what that building had been before but it was a two or three story building in Downtown San Jose and very old building and we had chores we were each set up like on teams we had each night. We had different chores either worked in the kitchen or a lot of times. I got to working like the arts and crafts room with child really like that.

16:02 But you had a roommate and I actually room was a very nice girl who was a good bit older than I was she was in her twenties and there were all kinds of people there. They were very young girls. The youngest they are they was 14 and the oldest there was like 40

16:20 And we had weekly visits the doctors came to us because we stayed right there all the time now once a week they had volunteers from this was sponsored by Methodist Church. So once a week ahead latest from the church who would come get some member there was one lady that station wagon should come get a load of us and take us somewhere take us back up because while we were there at that location, we were able to walk downtown to shop or go get pizza or something like that and we all bought fake wedding rings because then God forbid that we must be seen on the street pregnant and without a ring on her finger Wellhead fake names. You took a pseudonym when you went in to the place all of our mail when we got our mail we had our real name was marked out.

17:11 And I put our fake name on there. Some of the girls had mail drops back in like maybe they might live in Illinois and they had a mail drop in Kentucky or somewhere in the mail would be forward it to them. Some of them were very very particular about hiding their identity. We were cautioned not to reveal our real names to the other girls and there were a few that I know I did, you know, and I've correspondent with them one lady that correspond with four years after after we left there. But while we were there

17:43 They move they built a new facility and they moved us out this new facility, which was closer to the hospital where I guess it was a Methodist hospital where where I'll deliver the baby that actually had a wing on the hospital just for us and kept us away from the regular population in a everything was secretive it when we moved to the new place. That's when they would have people come out and get us and take us into town but I can remove one time. We took a field trip somewhere cuz I remember all on a bus together, but I've never went probably a Christmas program or something like that, but that's probably the only Christmas I've ever been away from home. I was there for Christmas and then David was born in March is born March 8th is actually born on Mike's birthday 68.

18:41 So that was always a double whammy for me when it was time for Mike's birthday cousin. It was David's birthday to but I couldn't celebrate David's birthday, you know, cuz 4 years I was quiet about it. I didn't say anything and then when we got computers when we start again computers, I realized that I could get online and search for him and I started doing that.

19:02 And back, then which has been several years ago. Now there were more open records online that I could get two birth and death and Social Security and all kinds of things that are now closed.

19:16 And I remember the night that I found his death listing of somebody online had help me narrow it down to two or three Davidson Texas born on that day in the one that we thought it was which it did turn out to be him. I found his death record on Social Security website and I can remember it was late last night cuz he's to set up till 2:00 in the morning going over all these records, you know, it was just it just about killed me and I thought this is just can't be you know, I've been looking for man if four years is campy.

19:51 And I had registered with all the Registries that you can enter the parent and the child can both register and I had registered with the the home which that was a joke. But anyway, I did go through all the procedures.

20:08 But I finally

20:11 I couldn't find an address for him. Which later I I figured out why.

20:16 But I finally found his mother and address and I sent him a birthday card.

20:24 I didn't get a response. So I think I sent another card or something and finally his adopted mother called me.

20:32 And tell me who she was she was so sweet to tell me who she was and she said the first card I got so I didn't open it and then I got another she said I thought you one of his friends and she said finally opened it and read it and realized but David had been killed in a snow skiing accident in Colorado.

20:52 And I had Lee's birthday. He died on Hadley's birthday.

20:59 And you know, she and I both just cried and cried and cried and might do to Mike sat there while I was on the phone talking to her name is Geneva and he cried and cried and cried because he had been right there with me trying to help me find David and

21:18 Yeah, so I lost him twice and she sent me pictures. I have some pictures of him and he looks very much like my brother very much like your brother Todd Daisy favors and was a hair color and kind of stands like you and

21:38 You know lots of

21:41 Family resemblances Theron

21:45 And I guess one of the reasons that

21:49 I don't mind talking about this and that I want to talk about the snail. Is it so important to adoptees and adoptive parents?

21:58 To be able to know who their families are, you know to be able to meet their brothers and sisters and moms and dads and

22:09 It's it to me. It should be a thing of Shame anymore. That's a no. That's the Dark Ages. Let's get passed out this move on. It happened. Okay, let's get over it. You know you got family out there.

22:21 And the laws need to be changed definitely need to be changed.

22:27 And there are lots of good people that they're working on that right now trying to get that done. So that adoptees can't find their parents, you know, a lot of people need to know things for health issues.

22:40 There are a lot of health issues in his background that he would have needed to know specially he married and had children and that kind of thing the diabetes and heart disease and all those kinds of things need to

22:51 I need to know those things. How old was David when he died.

22:57 Mid-thirties. I can't remember exactly. I don't remember exactly the year. I have it written down but it you remember the year. I haven't been there but I don't remember what it was.

23:11 When you had him?

23:16 In San Antonio

23:28 It's okay.

23:46 It upsets me great.

23:55 I just think about Henry.

24:00 Arms, I know.

24:12 You angry gay me.

24:15 Yeah, I was I was angry for a long time because you know in my heart I knew that she was.

24:24 I knew that she knew that I was too young to take care of a child and but I also knew and I know now that a lot of was purely the shame of from of the time because you know, she made comments to me about she had to go to different grocery store. She could go to the grocery store anymore because people as well as Molly do and you know, and she

24:49 Couldn't make up anything fast enough or whatever and and I felt badly for my brother who was still in high school because I knew that some people knew and that he was having to face that everyday.

25:04 And you know things are just different now it is just what I mean. What did they do? I mean what would happen to me when people when you know women would just basically disappear for

25:20 You know 9 to 10 months at a time. What did they think was going on? I mean, what did you tell everybody never discussed it? I don't know what she tell people we never talked about David ever.

25:34 Ever

25:37 She never knew I was looking for and you know it just in and that was one of my fears when I was looking for him. Not only was I going to have to tell my children that they had a brother but I was going to have to tell my mother that I had found it. I didn't know how she would accept that but me knows to turn out but I didn't have to face any of that but

26:01 It's a Bittersweet solution.

26:06 But what people might up different stories people would say that you know, someone has gone off to college out of state and back then you didn't just run back home. You didn't fly back home. You went off to college you stayed for the whole year. You didn't come home for holidays cuz you know the transportation so that was a lot of people said that and a lot of the girls that were there did take correspondence courses and take some college courses are in that kind of thing so that they would wouldn't get too far behind the college that kind of stuff.

26:37 And I'm sure people just in a made-up is many different kinds of stories. Is there more girls?

26:46 But there were a lot of them.

26:52 How did you meet my stepfather?

26:59 Mike Mike's family for the most of his life lived in the Pineville area, but in high school, actually he went to Pineville junior high school, but I don't think I knew him and then they moved to Minden Louisiana with his dad work for a road to actually so I wrote your name for 4, but he work for TPA, but they moved to Mendon.

27:27 And then he'd come back did move back to Power hasko Pineville, and he was going to call my school and he was in band with me. But the fart my first memory of him. I was dating another guy.

27:42 Who out he had a sister my age. Also. This guy was the New Year couple years older than I and then he have sister, right but their father drowned one day fishing while we were at school and the News got back to school and everything and I was banned was the last hours a day and I just found in that was really distraught very upset because these were to my friends and their daddy just died in and it wasn't that long after my dad died. So every time anything like that happen, you know, it would just open that wound again and I can remember walking out to the band room and some friend of mine, you know had her arm around me or something cuz I was crying and I can remember Mike leaning over the railing of in front of the band room watching me come up the ramp.

28:28 Does Megan roommate when I got there, you know, he asked me what was wrong and I was telling him and I remember him putting his arm around me like Michael do and that was it and I'm from then on it was just Mike and Molly.

28:42 I used to help out during marching season. They would let me watch with the bassoon. So I had to hold symbols for him to play like I was in the percussion section with him during Martin season, but and you know, you know the story we dated for a couple years in high school and then toward the end of my senior year at I got he was in college and I was spoiled and I wanted to date every weekend you can come with home every weekend. So I broke up with him and you know, he he married somebody else. I married somebody else and then about 15 or so years later. We both wind up back in Pineville divorced and we started dating again and married at all five of you kids in the wedding and then had two more so

29:30 What kind of guy was Mike?

29:33 Michael the funny guy

29:36 He was he was a bear.

29:41 Hungry old Grumpy Bear that's a funny old bear. He was a sweet guy. He was very thoughtful and he was very kind and very grumpy sometimes but there's a strong man and you know later, you know later in his life. I realized I spiritually was the most spiritual person I've ever known but he is very private about that.

30:10 One of the

30:12 What year did he pass away? And when he passed away around Thanksgiving that used to be such a big holiday for us.

30:26 How have you dealt with that the last few years? I mean, how do you deal with that? You know, what's funny? It's

30:34 Thus the holidays that were important to Mike or the ones I have trouble with and near the snow show you what kind of guy was Halloween to dress up for Halloween Saint Patrick's Day, you know that Irish thing coming out anymore. He had a green suit that he wore to work on st. Patrick's Day. St. Patrick's died in and those are the times that are hard for me thanksgivings. Okay, cuz we're real busy and and Christmas was just me at Christmas to him. You know, that was my big thing. I love Christmas, but my heart is thing right after he died was our to children's birthdays. They're both in January and that was their first birthdays after he died were real hard for me.

31:23 And then family things are tough because he's not there to share with me. The Joy are the Heights or whatever else is going on, you know, he's not there to help me with this thing what disease in like finally succumb to

31:43 Mike had ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. And when does he find out that one of the first voices first diagnosis? I know we had problems before he was first diagnosed in October 2001. So he lived a little over two years after diagnosis, but my cat has a long time when I look back at symptoms head and very long time. They just have trouble diagnosis.

32:11 What have you learned from life is hard life is hard.

32:20 I finally have learned some patience. My mother brought me a plaque one time from one of her many Johnson. It says Lord grant me patience right now.

32:31 And it was years before I realized that was a joke, cuz I thought we give

32:40 I never realized she meant it as a joke. I just thought with you. I want it right now, but that's and I learned that from Mike. I learned my patience then when he got sick because I certainly didn't have it when you guys were growing up. I was not a patient mother at all. You know, that little freak. That's the case. I mean

33:02 You know, I was the most.

33:06 Wasn't that you know that the nicest kid or the most calm kids? So, you know, I can see some of that in Henry II and you know, I can quite clearly see where you know patience would be called from your very nice. Call me weren't but you were very nice all the time.

33:30 I was right. Have you ever have you ever consider? You know, you said something about doing something more artistic? Have you ever considered like writing down your life story?

33:41 Thought about it, but

33:44 You know, it's like everything else. We all think our stories not that spectacular that nobody else would want to read it or whatever, but I thought about it and I've written some poetry that.

33:59 Most of it's what I think we would consider doggerel, but

34:03 And I thought about it. I might do it one of these days. I mean, even if it's not, you know where you stay with a journaling man, that's really important to have your own handwriting in that kind of thing and I do try to do something like that, but

34:24 I haven't taken the time yet to destroy the whole story.

34:28 Well while we're here is everything you want to ask me anything. You want me to confess to like you would know. I have my ways of finding out things. I think that's about it and get some of the things here, but that's pretty much.

34:49 All I wanted to know is there anything you would like to add?

34:54 That she thinks important. Oh, I want to tell story that I think is so

35:00 Funny not funny Ha-Ha, but funny strange when we were kids. We walked to grammar school, you know because we live close enough that they wouldn't send scuba. So for the first 6 years from first grade to 6th grade I walk to school and what's so odd about this is that we walked about one two, three blocks down the Hillside Street beside my mother's house.

35:28 And then we crossed into a

35:31 Sort of a semi wooded area that the dads in the neighborhood kept mode for us kept the trail mode because then we walked up on the railroad track and walk about a city block down the railroad track and then walked up another Trail they kept mode and then cross the street to get to school nowadays. You would never send your kids down but it was the safest way to get school because if we went another direction we had to walk across several streets, you know, and this was the safest way and I just I passed that area. Sometimes it's grown up. Now, you know, they they nest in the school bus around to pick all the kids up. Nobody walks to school. God forbid.

36:14 But I just think that's funny because nobody would send their kids down railroad track these days times have changed.

36:23 I'll look around at the at the buildings and things that have changed that are that are gone in our area and I think especially for people older than I am how sad it is to ride around downtown and you don't see anything. That's familiar. No.

36:38 So you asked about what I've learned about life. Not just that it's hard but changes all the time.

36:46 And it's harder if we don't change with it.

36:51 I think that's it. Thank you for doing this.