Continued from Holidays in West Virginia

At the end of January 1944, Yry again visited Dr. Ratcliff, as evidenced by a $75 receipt. On February 5, an unnamed female baby, #8237-44, was born to Mrs. Allen Wilcox in Cabell County, Huntington, West Virginia. On February 28, Mrs. Allen Wilcox paid the final $25 on Dr. Ratcliff’s bill. What was Yry going through between Christmas and the end of February? The emotional toll must have been enormous, the decisions momentous, and the apparent solutions no less than monstrous. 

A congratulatory letter, of sorts, arrived from New Jersey on February 16, 1944. That scolding letter from one of her friends is a window to Yry’s state of mind leading up to the birth.

Congrats. I expected it much later . . . Are you mad thinking of giving the baby away? And I was so proud of you that you were going through with it—that you didn’t have an unnatural abortion. Don’t give the baby away. If you have to fight the whole world to do it, keep the baby. You can run away from many things, but you can’t run away from your conscience. Your conscience would kill you in the end. As it is, your nervous system is the weakest part of you . . . You’ve disregarded conventions all your life, don’t start thinking of them now . . .you better plan on giving her a religious up-bringing so she won’t have the spiritual void you have . . . You won’t be able to live in a hotel with an infant. You will need to find a rooming house to rent. After a few months you’ll be able to find a day nursery to care for the baby and you’ll be able to get a job. From now on, you have to think of your baby. You’ve always lacked emotional stability, and your baby ought to make you kinder and more charitable in your opinions. 

Your letter of January 10th bothered me a lot. Now I know why. You were full of plans, selfish plans that didn’t seem to include your baby. You were going to NY and then west again and nothing about the baby. Never did I realize that you could be contemplating giving your own flesh and blood away. Do you think you’re the first mother to have a baby out of wedlock? . . . You won’t be able to keep your baby a secret, not for very long, anyway. So you better decide on a story you want to tell the world.  With all the men in the service, you might say that your husband is a soldier in the service overseas. Later you can say he was killed. It’s better to lie, than to give one’s baby away. You’ll have to decide for yourself what to tell your folks. You may tell your mother the truth or some such story as I mentioned. Your folks are lonely and in time they’d be happy to have a grandchild. I’m sure they’d help you all they could. You’ve been willful and unkind to them. You’ve blamed them even when they were right and you were wrong.

Continued