restricted access Chapter Three: "It is Better to Be Loved than Feared"
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30 chapter three “It is Better to Be Loved than Feared” —African Proverb I attended high school with my sister for two years. Like most sisters close in age we fought about things that, looking back, were so silly—mostly about clothes. We shared a room and a closet. Aside from this normal squabbling we took care of each other because of my dad. We were usually punished at the same time by my father. His way of disciplining us was to beat us. These were beatings, not spankings. We had to go outside and pick a branch from the snowball tree (mom’s favorite) ourselves, bring it inside, and then receive our punishment. Sometimes he would use a cord or his belt. Today they would call his treatment of us child abuse and he’d be behind bars or we’d be in foster care. These very, very severe punishments made us fear him. I also remember being a protector of my sister. I have a memory of standing between him and her and letting him know that he’d better not hit her. I have memories of our little quiet sisterly conversations in the bedroom we shared. My sister remembers running away to Grandma Randolph’s house to avoid being beaten. I ran away but only to the backyard. I still dream about the closet in our room where I also hid. When I ran from my father, I did not get as far away as my sister. We lived with a lot of fear of my father; fear of the beatings and also fear of his voice. My father judged our behavior in terms of obedience around the house and school grades. He made it clear that we could not bring Cs home. Occasionally we’d go on family outings, like to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. He liked to do things like that. But fear of my father created a barrier for me to get to know him as well as for him to get to know me. My sister would say the same thing. When my father was gone on a railroad run my mother corrected us with words; only occasionally did she say, “Get the switch” for physical punishment. Generally things around the 31 house waited until my dad returned from his railroad run. Then there would be a reciting of the wrongs of the two girls and discipline followed. My brother left home because he and my father did not get along. Their relationship was emotionally and physically violent. My brother left at the earliest age possible to join the Air Force, with an uncle, Lawrence. He escaped! My parents did not know of his plans. He was just gone one day. For the longest time, my sister and I felt that we had done something to drive my brother away from home. It was years later that we learned that it was conflict between him and Dad that created the rift. I never knew of or witnessed the details of Tyrone’s conflicts with my father. In terms of its violence, my guess is that my father was doing what was done to him. Dad also enforced The Law: “don’t speak unless you are spoken to” and “don’t talk back.” So if my brother was doing either of those things, and I’m sure he was, that would have resulted in tussles. My own memories of Tyrone are not especially rosy. He was nine years older than me and sometimes he was left in charge of his sisters. One time, Tyrone and his friend Linell decided they were going to torture me. They poured a glass of vinegar and made some buttered toast and forced me to drink the vinegar and eat the My father Fay Lee Gordly and my brother Tyrone Lee Gordly 32 buttered toast. Still, I used to like to hang out with him. He had toys I liked, like an erector set, and he had a bike. Sometimes he had to take me with him. Once I got my foot stuck in the back spokes of the bike while riding with him. I mainly remember being in the way of my brother’s fun with the fellas. Tyrone’s empty room was a reminder that he was gone. It was like a hole in our home and in our family. The room also had a doorway entrance to what we called the play porch...


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Subject Headings

  • Gordly, Avel Louise, 1947-.
  • Women politicians -- Oregon -- Biography.
  • African American politicians -- Oregon -- Biography.
  • Oregon -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • African American women -- Oregon -- Biography.
  • Community activists -- Oregon -- Biography.
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