A Message From Joan Lowery Nixon
|Dear Boys and Girls,
I have just visited your Orphan Train website, and I'm very impressed. I love the acrostic poems, written about my characters in The Orphan Train Adventures series.
I'm glad that you were able to meet an orphan train rider. When I went to the first Orphan Train Heritage Society reunion for orphan train riders and their families and heard some of their stories, it was a very emotional experience. Most of the men and women who told us about their trips west to new homes had happy experiences, but a few of them did not. All of them wanted to know more about their own families and their own heritage.
I had been asked to read something from A Family Apart, so I told them a little bit about the story and read the scene in which Mrs. Kelly gives her children to the Children's Aid Society, hoping to give them a better life than they could have had on the streets of New York City. Those of you who have read the book remember Frances Mary Kelly in shock and tears saying to her mother, "How can a mother give away her own children?" And her mother answering, "Oh, Frances, don't you realize that I'm doing it because I love you?"
After my talk an elderly man, who had been an orphan train rider, came to me and took my hands in his. He said, "Thank you for reading that. I have always wondered why my mother gave me away. Now I understand."
A few years after that I received a letter from a sixth grade girl who told me that she was from Viet Nam. She wrote, "I used to return from school to the house of the family I was living with and sit in my room and wonder why my mother had given me away. Then my teacher gave me your book, A Family Apart, to read. Now I can understand that my mother did this because she loved me."
It meant a great deal to me that my book had helped both the elderly man and the young girl. This is the best reward an author can receive.
I hope that you can enjoy all seven of the Orphan Train Adventure stories. I certainly enjoyed researching and writing them.
With many good wishes,
Joan Lowery Nixon