The Paducah Sun from Paducah, Kentucky on April 1, 2007 · 25
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The Paducah Sun from Paducah, Kentucky · 25

Paducah, Kentucky
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 1, 2007
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The Paducah Sun Sunday, April 1 , 2007 fC Determined woman beat poverty as star marketer Editor's nolo: Retired Paducah firefighter Gladman Humbles told i the story of Madam C.J. Walker recently to the Paducah Beauty Club as part of March being National Woman's History Month. By Gladman Humbles Special to the Sun "Success?" "Little chance." "Almost no chance." "No chalice at all!" Such thoughts could have very well been unspoken predictions about Sarah Breedlove's early life. Sarah Breedlove was a child of the land - the land where tiny seeds grew into white fluffy balls - the land that poor people depended upon for survival. Bom into poverty in 1867 in Delta, La., Sarah Breedlove, by .all of her earthly surroundings, seemed doomed to a life of ignorance and poverty with very little chance for a formal education. Sarah's life was headed for working Louisiana's delta cotton soil while the broiling sun bore down on her body, drying out her skin and hair while her feet blistered from the furnace-like heat. Her parents rented out enough land to support a family of eight. The barely livable shack standing upon the land held some glowing moments during their ordeal of trying to survive a day-to-day existence. An open hearth fireplace warmed their bodies while their love for each other warmed their hearts. Sarah's early life was rather lackluster except for her penchant for pretty clothes. She showed no signs of becoming successful at all much less than phenomenally successful. Sarah's first misfortune was in becoming an orphan at 7 upon the death of both parents. Shuffling from plantation to plantation as a house worker and child tender, Sarah's thought process began to change. Surely there must be a better life than doing drudging work simply to survive. Sarah, while still very young, moved in with her sister and husband in Vicksburg, Miss. This move proved to be no panacea for Sarah as she was expected to fully support herself and contribute to the finances of the household. Even so, she found this better than her former work. But Sarah became confronted with another misfortune. Her brother-in-law started molesting her. At 14, Sarah escaped her deplorable situation by marrying an older man. Out of this union, a daughter, Lelia, was born in 1885 when Sarah was 17. For the first time in her life, Sarah found purpose and motivation to find the path to success. Lelia gave her strength. Sarah's childhood had been lived through hunger, hardship and cruelty. She became filled with desire and determination to protect Lelia. - At age 20, Sarah's husband died. Here was a woman facing the future without a husband, no education, no marketable skills, no means of support except for her ability to endure long hours of hard work. But there was a uniqueness in Sarah. She had the two qualities most successful people have, determination and drive. During early 1889, Sarah and three-year-old Lelia found themselves in St. Louis. Two of her brothers had prospered as St. Louis barbers. Ironically, during the 1800s black barbers served a white clientele. Some slipped blacks in the back door after hours but their primary livelihood came from whites. Black barbers were considered "good livers." Many owned their own homes and were considered upper class in several black communities throughout the country. Sarah, a proud independent woman, did not expect nor asked for help from her brothers. She had squirreled away enough money to rent a cheap room in a . seedy neighborhood. To support herself and her child, Sarah started taking in laundry. She worked long hard hours, managed to pay the bills and set some money aside. As criminal activity in the neighborhood grew worse, Sarah swallowed her pride and moved in with one of her brothers. Sarah longed for a man who would be a good father figure for Lelia. She developed a relationship with a man named John Davis and married him in 1894. Soon after marriage, she knew she had made a bad choice as Davis turned out to be lazy, had no eye for the future, drank excessively and contributed nothing to the family welfare. In addition to those undesirable traits, Davis found a mistress. Sarah decided that what was good for the goose was good for the gander and discreetly started seeing a man, Charles Joseph Walker. Walker was a reporter for a St. Louis black newspaper. Soon Davis was dumped and Walker became her third husband. The worrisome relationship with Davis and in not finding a way to escape the. back-breaking work of a washerwoman plus other worries caused Sarah's hair to start falling put. As the hair situation grew worse, Sarah became ashamed of her condition and started praying constantly for God to give her guidance how 5) ) mmm mm- Support Your Local Unhid Way to restore her hair. God answered her prayer in a strange manner: "For one night I had a dream, and in that dream a big black man appeared to me and told me what to mix for my hair. Some of the remedy was from Africa, but I sent for it, mixed it, put it on my scalp and in a few weeks my hair was coming in faster than it had fallen out. I made up my mind I would begin to sell it." There is no way to determine whether Sarah's story was factual, but what is known is that Sarah looked skeptics straight in the eyes and was quite convincing that her mixture formula came to her in a dream. True or not, today's Madison Avenue advertising agencies could never come up with an idea that packed the punch Sarah's dream packed. Because God gave her the hair mixture through a dream, nearly every black woman in the country would want a hair product formulated and endorsed by God. Sarah didn't market her mixture immediately. After she became an agent for Pope-Tumbo, the leading purveyor of hair products of the time, Sarah learned and developed marketing skills. She soon knew that her days as a washerwoman were over. Married to Charles Joseph Walker, Sarah transformed herself from Sarah Breedlove, housekeeper to washerwoman - to inventor -entrepreneur and woman of distinction - "Madam C. J. Walker." Madam C.J. Walker eventually forged her way into the difficult world of high finance by becoming America's first self-made black female millionaire. She also became known as a generous philanthropist and giver to charities of her choice. The Salvation Army 1128 Broadway Paducah is in need of good used clothing; especially children's clothing and nice usable furniture for our low income families. Donations Accepted Monday thru Saturday . Arrange Pick-Up for Larger Items by calling our office 270-442-2198 Need Knows No Season CSun'07 f .... Paducah, KeriiUCky www.fu9serson.aHab Are You Paying Too Much For Heath Insurance? We Can Help! Call Jon King at 270-443-SAIL Western (Rivers Insurance A Lr IjiJuuxJ i ) x 1 f V'- i It's the perfect time to make a commitment to yourself and your loved ones to hear better. The professionals at Miracle-Ear have been helping people stay more engaged in life for nearly 60 years." Our friendly hearing care consultants are ready to help you understand your choices so you find the hearing aid thafs right for you. And with over 1,200 locations nationwide, you can find us wherever life takes you. Start with a FREE HEARING TEST AND CONSULTATION-today. f Digital Technology: Contour Digital Hearing Aid. HURRY OFFER ENDS APRIL 25, 2007. Ha orher offerj or discount oppry. Al diicour do not apply lo prk join. Good only from participating Miracle-Ear representatives. Offer valid on AC702I Contour model only. Otter expires 4252007. Don't miss out on two great ways to save! Start the year off right by calling one of our 1200 locations by April 25, 2007 for a FREE hearing test and consultation." 07 Me CM D10I ninMsuillo Eld., Pafticah, EIV 2VGKXKJ-3DG0 Off 'k i r . :? s .3 1 -tn SB r . wmm ft mi rrr rrr nn n II U I I 3 U BU i'O Hearing aidi do ik retore natural hearing. Individual experience vary depeading oo aeverity of hearing toaa, coney of evaluation, proper fit and ability lo adapt to amplification. Hearing teati alwayi free. Not a medical eiara. Audkxnetric kt to determine proper amplificatioa leedi only. C2007 Miracle-Ear, inc. 1 1006HOP-OuarterBW

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