The Boy at Booth Memorial
When fourteen-year-old Rene stepped off the streetcar in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1949, he entered a situation he could never have imagined. His mother had taken a position as head nurse at the Salvation Army’s Booth Memorial Home and Hospital where they would live on campus. For the next year he would be surrounded by ten women who had dedicated their lives to God, and fifty young girls…all pregnant…all unmarried. To hide that embarrassing fact from new classmates, he walked around the block before boarding a streetcar for school. To bond with neighborhood kids, he tried playing hockey even though he didn’t know how to skate. Although his religion censured it, he took an interest in the home, the women running it and in the lives of the girls there to hide their condition. He learned how hard it was for them to give up their babies and felt the pain when difficult births and deaths visited the home. Inevitably, there came a time when he learned that life’s decisions are not always easy…and not without consequence. Those experiences at Booth Memorial guided Rene in his first steps toward being the responsible man that he was someday to become.