The 50th Anniversary Reunion of the Minnesota Orphan Train Riders met Saturday, October 2, at St. Francis Center in Little Falls. Over 150 attendees, including three Orphan Train Riders (all 90 years-plus) participated in a wonderful day of learning, reminiscence, photographs and the warmest possible hugs. An earlier post described the program – this note is just to underscore that the day was perfect in every way. The eagerness of families to learn the stories of their parents and grandparents was palpable.
And the resources for learning were rich. The room was filled with scrapbooks, photos, clippings, family memoirs and more. The featured program was one-woman tour de force theatrical performance by professional actress Pippi White. Her information-rich presentation brought tears, laughs and an incredible documentary story of the nation’s immense immigration initiative that transported some 250,000 children from the streets of New York, primarily to towns and farms in the Midwest. The estimation is that there are now 4,000,000 descendents of these children.
All present agreed that the story of the Orphan Train Riders and of their immense contributions needs to be integrated into the mainstream histories at the national, state and local levels. These committed leaders are building an immense documentary record to support that effort.
OTR descendents and interested, but welcomed, people like me were unanimous in the conclusion that the one word that describes the Orphan Train Riders is SURVIVOR. Those survival skills served them and contributed mightily to the strength of their communities, churches, schools, businesses – and most of all families – that thrive today.
The day was videotaped and Pippi’s DVD was on sale. Sales were so swift that the supply needs to be replenished. Watch this site for more information about purchasing these new resources.