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mezzotint

12.5 x 10.5 in.

Estelle, 2008

So the story goes, Josephine Brock was swinging on a swing set in the park when her water broke. She ran home to give birth to a 14-lb baby, my grandmother. Estelle Terry was born Estelle Brock on July 18th, 1915 in South Orange, New Jersey to Josephine and Henry Brock. She spent her childhood in South Orange, New Jersey.

 

She met her husband-to-be, Robert Terry, while attending Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. Estelle always said she was a party girl – “the life of the party” and her husband-to-be would attend dances where she danced to her heart’s content while he patiently waited for her to finish.

 

After graduating from high school, she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband who taught Aviation at A&T College. She drove a bus on campus for the students. In 1942, they moved to Tuskegee, Alabama where her husband joined the United States Air Force as a flight instructor; Estelle became a parachute rigger on the airbase. During the war, she was awarded two “Caterpillars” – an award given to those who had their chutes jumped in combat.

 

In 1945, Estelle and her husband gave birth to their only child, Robert Reese Terry. After the war, Estelle and family moved back to New Jersey where she opened the first beauty shop in South Orange. She was also a member of the South Orange Rescue Squad; she drove their ambulance. Estelle currently lives in Salem, Alabama. Her son and grandchildren are still subject to her witty sarcasm at 93 years young.

 

Malika Ra