(Photo by Teresa's granddaughter Theresa Rosell Mason)
I sometimes poo-poo that old saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words." Who knows how long that idea's been around: since 1911 claim Americans. But England calls the precept older—and theirs. As for China? Its old saying is ten times ours: "A picture is worth TEN thousand words."
When I saw this photograph of the Teresa Martin statue in Concordia, Kansas, I doffed my hat to the Chinese. Although I hadn't seen Teresa for fifteen years and had never seen her as a child, she leaped out of her statue and wrapped herself, once more, around my heart.
Teresa must be in her element in Concordia, participating in yet another Orphan Train Reunion. She'll be surrounded by statues of orphan train riders in nearby LeDuc Memorial, Britt's Fountain and Gifts, and the Concordia American Legion. Among the statues: Father Paul Fangman. The National Orphan Train Complex, unveiled his image February 23.
Teresa, I know, would remember Father Fangman, who had celebrated Mass at her first Orphan Train Reunion in 1964. Here's what I wrote about that:
"Teresa didn't know he was an orphan, but he was. People in Raeville, an unincorporated village, took him. A skinny little man, Father Fangman didn't talk long, although he said he was born Jewish but raised Catholic. Teresa stirred. She wondered how he knew he was Jewish. The priest seemed nervous. He shook a lot and rushed through his words. Mostly he spoke about how he never tried to find his folks. Teresa wondered if he thought he should. Those who knew him seemed to love him. They called him Father Paulie." (from Mail-Order Kid by Marilyn June Coffey)
Father Paulie, indeed, laughed when he discovered he had been born Jewish. He found out when he was a lifelong Catholic and dedicated Catholic Priest. Teresa, later, would discover her Jewish heritage. This must have been frequent in New York where the best place to leave an unwanted baby was the New York Foundling Hospital, founded by Catholics.
a JoLt of CoFFeY
An Intermittent Newsletter
by Marilyn June Coffey
The author of:
A Cretan Cycle: "A single, sharp, funny story in verse" retells the Minotaur's myth
Great Plains Patchwork: A lyric tale of the "wondrous strange" great plains
JackJack & JuneBug: A steamy, poignant love story (with Jack Loscutoff)
Mail-Order Kid: A popular biography of Teresa Martin, an orphan train rider
Marcella: A controversial, internationally published coming-of-age novel
Mas - tur - ba - tion: A rollicking tract on a "quite inexhaustible" subject
Pricksongs: A libidinous collection of tart poems from the turbulent sixties
That Punk Jimmy Hoffa: A memoir depicts how Coffey's father beat Hoffa
The Battle of Orleans: A documentary about a hotly disputed Marcella reading
Thieves, Rascals & Sore Losers: Details the dirty deals that helped settle Nebraska
& publisher of Jack Loscutoff's latest books:
Aunt Gussie's Socks: A Russian-American based memoir (in fact and fiction)
A Line of Shorts: The breezy short stories and holy satires of an awesome wordsmith
Buy Coffey's & Loscutoff's books:
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Marilyn June Coffey