Malloree Johnson, one of eight siblings who grew up without a father, never used the word “daddy” when she was growing up, and she admits, “That void is still there.”
A resident of Rosedale since 1976, Johnson, who is well past the age when women can no longer politely be asked their age, was born in South Carolina. She came to New York “for an education and financial reasons.”
She’s retired now, after 40 years of working for the post office. She lives alone and does volunteer work at Black Spectrum Theatre and various senior centers in the neighborhood.
She is the mother of two sons, now aged 46 and 40, products of a battered relationship that led Johnson to divorce her husband after only five years of marriage.
“The father image was not there” for her sons, she said. “It makes it difficult. Kids need both of those parents, for guidance and protection, especially the boys.”
She admits, “It was a struggle. I ask myself, ‘How did I do it?’ If I had to do it all over today, I wouldn’t have two kids. It would be impossible. I would have no control over them. You can’t be with them 24/7. You can lay down the basics and hope for the best.
“Today, babies are having babies. Parental guidance is not there. Look at bullying. Why doesn’t the public deal with that?” she wondered.
Johnson is well aware that raising her children alone “affected my two sons because it affected me. They need a masculine image for love and discipline. I’m a woman. I can’t take the place of a father.”
Even though she believes “they turned out pretty good,” she feels strongly that “with a father, it would have been better.”
Johnson said that, in order to support the family, “I worked 24/7. I was penalized if I didn’t come in. Sometimes I went to work on two hours of sleep, or none at all. It was very hard.
“The black woman is the strongest woman in the world. We take it to the next step.”
Still, today, she would tell young couples, “Don’t get married until you’re financially situated. Don’t get kids out of wedlock. Wait until you can afford kids. Love don’t pay the rent or put food on the table.”