My name is Bernice McDonald and I am the very happy owner/ operator of a couple of children's day-care centers. I love my life and I love this work. I love children and since I have one of my own this helps satisfy my need to nurture.
I have not always felt or recognized this need. I was born in a remote part of the mountains of West Virginia. My parents owned an eighty acre farm and leased an additional forty acres. I was the last of twelve children and was the only boy. Yes! I was born a male. My birth name was Bernard Jenkins. I was always called Bernie. We were a poor family in a very poor area. I never had any new clothes and was dressed in hand-me-downs until I was about fifteen years old. Because I had eleven older sisters I wore girls clothes until I went to school. Then my mother modified my sisters' cloths, jeans and tops, to look more like boys clothes. My underwear were always the panties and t-shirts my sisters outgrew. My sweet sisters never made fun of my clothes, they knew better. My father would have come down on them hard.
After I was nine years old I was expected to hunt almost every day for the family's meat. We raised chickens, a few hogs and had a couple of cows and steers, but I was expected to supply most of the meat. I was allowed only two bullets a day for the 30-30 rifle and six for the .22 rifle. The old shotgun we had was a muzzleloader and was not reliable. Only my dad was allowed to use it. If there was not enough meat to go around I was the first to do without.
By the time I was twelve I never missed a shot. If it was not a good shot I didn't take it, I became very adept at stalking the game in the area and getting close enough for a clean kill.
My father was killed by a blowout on a front tire on our old truck when I was fourteen. In our hills going off the road is almost always fatal. Five of my sisters had left home by then and had moved into town. The rest of us struggled to keep food on the table. Two years later my mother remarried.