This week on Senior Voices we meet Dorothy Johnson, born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1938. She moved her family to Dayton in 1967, and spoke with Dayton Metro Library volunteer interviewer, Ken Standifer, about her many years working at the Dayton VA.
Dorothy Johnson: My name is Dorothy D. Johnson. I was a housekeeper leader. I worked there about 29 years. I went to work at 5 and got off at 1, and I did janitorial work after that. Those soldiers, they called, they would call me at home and beg me to come back see because I treated them better than anybody out there. And I told them I couldn't come back because I had retired! But I tried to treat them all as if they was my father, what have you, how I'd want somebody to treat my father.
My son was 9 years old when we came here and my daughter was 13, 14. My son knew he had to be in this house before the sun went down, before it got dark, and they didn't get out there in them streets, smoking or drinking or using no drugs or nothing. My house was the neighborhood kids’ hangout. They hung out down in my basement. My grandson Marcus, him and a bunch of his friends would get down there and play music. And I had a pool table down there. My grandson had a keyboard down there, and I let them hang out down there. I told them as long as they didn't tear up or break up nothing. And they didn't. If these kids, if these kids had somewhere to go, they wouldn't get in so much trouble.
My house, since I done worked all these years trying to pay for it, so why would I leave it? I'ma enjoy it as long as I can. My daughter, she takes care of everything. I don't have no difficulty. Cause my daughter do all the cleaning, all the washing of the clothes, everything like that. I do the cooking. I give them credit. My kids look out for me. And I thank god for them every day. I treated them with respect, and I gave them all the love I had, and if they needed something, I got it for them. And do the same thing for their kids. I'd tell any mother that. Be just as nice to your kids as you want them to be to you. And it'll work out.
This interview was edited by Community Voices producer Kateri Kosta. Senior Voices is a collaboration between the Dayton Metro Library, Rebuilding Together Dayton, and WYSO. This series is made possible through the generous support of the Del Mar Healthcare Fund of the Dayton Foundation. Jocelyn Robinson coordinated this series as part of Community Voices.