"Good morning ... Mrs. August ... is it?"
"Yes sir, just like the month of July, my name is the next month, August. Only, you see, it Miss, not Mrs. I never married."
"I see, and you want a loan for college money for your son?"
"Yes sir, he's going to be an engineer."
"I see and it seems you have borrowed from us before. Oh, I see here that you have quite a history with this bank. This application is for your son, but you have borrowed for your son every year, for the past twelve years. Is this son ever going to finish school?"
"No sir, I borrow for each of my sons, so they can go to college."
"Oh, all of these loans are not for the same son?"
"Oh, no sir, I just borrow for the first year. After that, they can get a job or their own loan."
"Mrs ... ah, Miss August, how many sons do you have?"
"Oh, I get a new one every year, sir."
"Alright, ah, you have a child each year?"
"Oh, no sir, I get them from the hospital."
"You get them from the hospital? I'm sorry, I don't understand."
"Well, the hospital, they call me sometime around April or May, you know, eight, nine, or ten months after some of them hot summer nights, when all them young people are out in those parks staying cool. And I go pick up my new son then take him home and raise him 'til he's ready to go to college. So, that's when I come to see you for the college money."
"Miss August, can you tell me why the hospital calls you to come get a new son every year?"
"Nobody else wants them babies, but I take 'em. They be good babies, no matter what their mammas done."
"And these babies, ah ... do you receive money from the state, so you can afford to raise these babies?"
"Oh no sir, they have older brothers to help me and when they get old enough, they has jobs, too."
"Miss August, how many sons do you have at your house, right now?"
"Well, let me count them." She begins ticking them off on her fingers, "There's Mathew, Nathan, Orpheus, Paul, Quinton, Randall, Stephen, Umber, Victor, Wilson, Xanthium, Yancy and Zillton. Then I starts all over with Anthony, Belton, Carl, Denton, and Everett. Yes, that's eighteen sons. Is that the same number you counted? And sometimes one or two will live with me after they graduate. You know, until they have good jobs. But I don't have none of them sons at home, right now."
"Ah ... Miss August, can you tell me, what is the source of your income?"
"I work most nights at the food bank, 'cause that pays the health insurance, and they let me have some of the food that would go to waste. I have a part-time job at a food store and can buy the broken, dented and out of date things they don't sell, and that's where I get most of the meat. Oh, and then I work sometimes at a Sears for a discount on my son's clothes. Then, of course, all my grown sons send me $100 a month when they have a good job. They send that money right here to this bank and the bank keeps it for me."
"I see. You state here that you own your home, which you are using as collateral for this loan. It is quite a large home, is that correct?"
"Yes sir, I never puts but two boys to a bedroom and I have my own bedroom."
"Ah ... Miss August, with your eighteen sons, putting two to a room and then a bedroom for your self, Ma'am that's ten bedrooms."
"Why, yes it is. And there are two rooms where the older boys can stay 'til they have them a good paying job."
"Miss August, I know this may sound like an unusual question, but how is it you have managed to purchase a twelve bedroom home on you income."
"Oh, that was easy. It only cost me a thousand dollars. They was going to tear it down. It was a sore to the eye, is what it was called. Or some name like that, but the boys and me, why we fix it right up and put on some paint. We have a very nice home, yes we do."
"Alright, let me see, as for items of personal value, you seem to have a very large investment in home furnishings and an industrial kitchen, my, my."
"Yes sir, each one of my boys has his own furniture and we have some televisions, of course not in the bedrooms, but they each get an hour a night, to watch, and with all the channels, some might want to watch something the others don't like. But they can have all the computer time they want, for homework and such. But as big as this computer thing is getting, I may need to have a few more of those pretty soon, but it shouldn't cost too much, one of my sons is good at building those machines."
"I see, could this be correct, you have five vehicles?"
"Now, those vehicles, the big boys take the younger ones for piano lessons or to their ball games, and the like. There is no way I could ever do that all on my own, so the older ones are a big help to me."
"Ma'am, are you licensed to run an orphanage?"
"No sir, them boys're not orphans, they're my sons. They are legal adopted. I have help from that free law clinic, to do all the papers."
"Yes ma'am, I can see how much help the free law clinic would be to someone who is adopting a son every year. Ah, if you will excuse me for a moment, I will need a supervisor's signature and then I can get you a check for the money."
"Oh, no sir, I don't want a check. You can deposit it in my savings account and I can use this here card your bank gave me. That way the college can get the money. Why, if I took that money home, I'd just never manage to get it to the boy that needs it for his school. I'm just that foolish with real money. I truly am."
The bank officer went through a door and quietly closed it behind himself before he began to shake his head. It would not be professional to walk through the bank lobby looking like he was telling a bank customer "No."
When he looked up he saw his supervisor smiling from ear to ear. "So, you have had your first application from Miss August, and you survived. That might stand you in pretty good stead for the rest of your career with this bank."
"What is that woman doing? Is it true she has eighteen sons?"
"Yes, plus about a dozen more. At least, that's the most recent count. Here let me sign that and Miss August can be on her way and I'll explain later."
When the new bank officer returned from shaking hands with the small woman and had seen her out of the bank, he returned to his supervisor's office.
Making himself comfortable, at his supervisor's request, the young loan officer requested, "Alright, tell me about Miss August."
"Jerry, you are new here. Relax, because you are in for a pleasant surprise." With the bank's newest loan officer seated comfortably, his supervisor began the story of Miss Mary August.
One hot August night, more than fifty years ago, a young girl, in a family way, as the expression was used in those days, found herself deep in labor pains. Having nowhere else to go, she went to a nearby house, where a small group of older women lived. There were probably four or perhaps five of them, living comfortably, some worked and others were volunteers at various charitable organizations. Those women were former nuns who had left the church, for one reason or another, and they all lived together in a small house. For the most part, these women were registered nurses and had some experience in delivering babies, from when they worked in developing countries, in the various missions to which the church had sent them.
They helped the young girl deliver her baby, but the mother's condition was so poor, she did not survive the child's birth. That baby was kept by the women as if she was their daughter. They named her Mary and gave her as a last name, the month in which she was born, August. It must have been about the time this young girl, was about to graduate from high school that she was attacked by several rowdy young men, full of summer hormones and she, such a tiny young girl, was unable to defend herself. The hospital patched her up, on the exterior, but could do nothing for the internal damage caused by being repeatedly raped.
After school and during the summer, Mary August worked at a nearby child care facility for mostly welfare mothers, who were struggling. Time after time, she saw these young mothers struggle to provide for first one, then a second, and often a third child, while trying to keep themselves, and sometimes a boyfriend, fed, clothed, and in some type of housing. However, what she also saw, were those women who were pregnant and then no longer pregnant, but they did not bring another child to the day care. So, she asked a few questions and discovered these women delivered their babies in the local hospital emergency room, signed consent forms for their newborn's adoption, and walked out of the emergency room, unfettered with a newborn to care for and not really caring what happened to the baby.
As often happened in cases like that, when there was no one on a list waiting for a newborn to adopt, the baby was usually turned over to some type of child welfare system or placed directly into an orphanage and pretty much forgotten by society. Well, Mary decided there had to be another way. She asked the hospital what she must do to adopt one of these newborns and learned all she could from whatever sources she could find. The free law clinic helped her with the first one, which just happened to be a boy. The former sisters who had raised Mary, had impressed upon her that she had to find it in her heart to forgive the young men who had so badly hurt her. Mary thought that if she had a son, she could teach him right from wrong and somehow it might save another young girl from a similar fate.
It must have been about a year later when one of the nurses, a former nun, brought a newborn baby boy home with her. This baby was destined to go to an orphanage, but the woman knew the baby would never survive in such a place. He was full term, not really sick, but not healthy either. She told the hospital that she, and her fellow sisters, would care for him a few days to see if his condition improved, then deliver him to the orphanage. Well, Mary said she would just take this little baby too and care for him, as she was doing with the other baby, now almost a year old. So, she went back to the free law clinic and the same attorney who had helped her with the first baby, just happened to be working that day, and faster than Mary expected, she had adoption papers for her second son.
It was not too difficult to see how something like that could have happened, or see how it grew. It may have seemed a little strange that a young woman, treated as she had been, could delight in having these baby boys of her own to care for, but Mary did. Of course, in the first few years the sisters helped her, but as Mary's family grew, so did her housing needs, grocery bills, clothing bills, and medical bills. Donations came, but they were never enough to cover the costs of a growing family. By now, the lawyer, who had helped Mary with eight adoptions, was a Judge. He knew something had to be done for Mary. He collected several men, who thought as he did, who could see that what she was doing was a service to the city, to the babies, and to the unfortunate women. He arranged for an account to be opened at the bank and a little money trickled in, but it never seemed like enough. Someone on the Judge's staff, a very talented clerk, wrote a grant proposal, which was approved and would pay for some of the costs of Mary's growing family.