Love Poems and Sad Stories -The Five Dollar Gold Piece

The Five-Dollar Gold Piece

Five Dollar Gold Piece
Five Dollar Gold Piece
The Train Ride Home
The Train Ride Home
The Milwaukee Railroad Station
The Milwaukee Railroad Station
My Mother
My Mother

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Love Poems and Sad Stories

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Forced to leave home to find work after graduating from the eighth grade, a young girl quickly grows up, gets married and has two small children. Her life should be good but it isn't.

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She soon finds out that her husband is an abusive drunk and she fears for her life and the safety of her children, but how can she escape? She has no money and no place to go. Then she remembers the five-dollar gold piece that her father gave her on her wedding night. It would be her ticket to freedom.

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A true story as told to me by my mother.

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The Five-Dollar Gold Piece

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Suddenly the door opened and he came directly to the bed where she pretended to be asleep. "Don’t try to fool me you worthless bitch!" he screamed as he pulled her out of bed by her hair. " For two cents I’d wring your neck" She knew that if she resisted he would only get worse. Already she had lost large handfuls of hair. Her neck would be black and blue tomorrow where his finger had pressed deeply into her throat momentarily cutting off her air. If she could only resist the temptation to defend herself, he would eventually tire of her and fall asleep in a drunken stupor.

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Soon he collapsed on the bed and was snoring loudly, but she couldn’t go back to sleep. Somehow she needed to find a way to take the two children and leave before he killed her or injured the children. What could she do? Where could she go? She could always return home to her parent’s farm in North Central Wisconsin, but that was a six-hour train ride away and besides, she didn’t have any money. He was always very careful to see that she didn’t get any money.

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They charged their food at the corner grocery store and he would pay the bill each week before he began drinking. He checked every item she bought and accused her of wasting his money. He even slapped her at the supper table if she tried to take a second piece of bread. If only she had enough money for train fare, she would be safe by her parents. They were too poor to support her and her two kids, but at least she would have time to plan what to do next.

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She thought back to her wedding day. Everything seemed so different then. She was marrying a handsome young man who had a good job as a city engineer. She would be moving 180 miles away to Milwaukee, where they could start a family and have a good life.

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At the wedding reception her father had taken her aside and slipped a five-dollar gold piece into her hand. He told her to hide it in a safe place in case she ever needed it. She had laughed at him and told him "You need it more than I do.", but she kept it anyway. She had carefully sewn it inside the hem of her petticoat and had told no one, not even her husband. At the time she felt guilty about taking it. Now it would be her ticket to freedom.

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Patiently, she waited until Monday morning when her husband went back to work. She didn’t even dare to look to see if it was still there in the back of the closet for fear that her husband might see her and ask her what she was doing. Once he had safely left, she hurried to the closet and tore open the hem. It was still safely tucked inside. She hadn’t worn the petticoat since her wedding night and had almost forgotten about it.

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She quickly made plans to leave. She packed what little clothing they had into a pillowcase and gathered some bread and milk for the long trip. The train station was nearly twenty blocks away but she couldn’t afford to take the bus. She walked as fast as she could alternately carrying one child and dragging the other. She had to be safely far away before he came home from work.

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She hastily purchased train tickets to Wausau for herself and her two children and paid with the five-dollar gold piece. There would be enough change left to call her father when she got to their destination. Then they would have to wait while he drove the horse and buggy to pick them up.

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She knew that her parents were too poor to support her and her two children for very long, but at least she would have time to plan what to do next. She didn’t think that her husband would follow her all the way there. She wondered if she would ever see Milwaukee again, but it didn’t matter as long as her children were safe.

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The story of the abused woman and her two small children continues at

The Church Picnic.

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Milwaukee Architecture

Milwaukee at Night
Milwaukee at Night
St Joseph Basilica
St Joseph Basilica
The Pabst Mansion
The Pabst Mansion

North Central Wisconsin - where the young woman in the story grew up and fled to escape an abusive husband

show route and directions
A markerWausau, Wisconsin -
Wausau, WI, USA
[get directions]

B markerMilwaukee, Wisconsin -
Milwaukee, WI, USA
[get directions]

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