Born Berniece Inez Gladys BAKER
Date of birth : July 30, 1919, Venice, California.
Date of death : May 25, 2014, North Carolina (non confirmed).
The death of her father, her mother sentimental fickleness didn't lead Galdys to stability. She didn't seem to look for a conventional home.
Soon bored by motherhood and its demands, she prefered consign Berniece to the neighbors to go in balls and parties given on the beaches by some friends. Her husband, for his part, worked for long hours as sales representative.
In May 1923, the divorce between John and Gladys was granted; he took the children, Berniece and Robert in his native Kentucky; for a while, Gladys visited them irregularly, then completely lost sight of them.
In 1924 Gladys went to Kentucky to see her children, but they had become strangers to her. She went back, leaving them under their father's permanent protection.
Robert didn't see his mother again (he died aged 16) and several dozen of years would pass before Gladys see Berniece again.
Berniece lived with her father John and her brother Robert in Flat Lick, at their grand-mother's home.
Her father remarried Maggie Hunter Mills, a widow, 13 years older than him, who ran a grocery in Flat Lick.
They went to live in Harlan, then in Middlesboro. When they lived in Harlan, Robert was hospitalized in Louisville to treat his leg (bone tuberculosis).
When they lived in Middlesboro, her brother Robert lived with them.
On August 16, 1933, Robert died.
In 1935, Berniece attended the Pineville High School, Kentucky. She received the first prize of dance, because she had danced on the hit of this era, "College Rythm" and won 5$.
Berniece grew up without knowing that her own mother was still alive; she only discovered her half-sister's existence when she was 19 years old (1938).
The few elements she had about her mother, had been extracted from her father John and his wife, Maggie. Berniece's memories about her mother were nearly nonexistent. Maggie did her best to answer her questions, but she told her so few things that Berniece's curiosity grew in a frustrating way.
John Baker explained to Berniece that Gladys was a very beautiful woman but that she was too young to take care of her children. This was the reason why he had took her, and also her brother Robert, at their grand-mother's home in Kentucky.
Berniece became more and more curious about her mother, while her father was very reluctant to talk about her.
At that time, she was engaged to Paris Miracle (May 12, 1918, Kentucky-October 23, 1990, Florida
She had graduated from the University.
Berniece wanted to work at the Berea Junior High School, Kentucky.
During Winter 1938, her father brought her a letter written by Gladys; because she didn't know where her daughter lived, Gladys had sent her letter at John's parents in Flat Lick. They were deceased and the mailman gave the letter to John's brother who still lived in Flat Lick, and who re sent the letter in Pineville where John lived from then on.
In this letter, Gladys informed her about the existence of a half-sister aged 12 and named Norma Jeane.
She gave her the address of the Goddardswith who Norma Jeane lived. The letter was written from the Agnews State Hospital, where Gladys was hospitalized since several years. She begged her to help her going out of this institution. She also gave her the address of her aunt (Della Monroe's sister), Dora Hogan Graham, who lived in Portland, Oregon.
Gladys wrote to Berniece, thinking
that Robert was still hospitalized in Louisville; she didn't
know that her son was dead.
Berniece needed several days to assimilate the fact she had found her mother and had a half-sister.
She first wrote to Grace McKee-Goddard, informing her about Robert's death.
Grace answered her a long letter which abounded with details about Norma Jeane and their life in California.
She also explained her that Norma Jeane was named Baker because her father had died before her birth.
She also let her point to the opportunity that Norma Jeane would visit them in Kentucky. Grace also told her that she had thought for years to contact her, but that it wasn't her responsability, and she had always hoped that Gladys accept her own responsability.
On July 18, 1939, birth of their daughter Mona Rae.
1942, Berniece received an invitation, from Ana Lower, to attend the wedding of Norma Jeane and Jim Dougherty; Ana Lower suggested her as wedding-present, some pillowcases. But the Miracles couldn't attend the wedding.
Paris worked 3 days a week at Baird's Grocery. He was also a volunteer fireman.
In those war years, life wasn't that easy : Paris brought back bags of food from his job, Berniece sewed her own clothes and those of her daughter. As their nieghbors, they had a small parcel of garden to cultivate some vegetables in the backyard.They decided to leave Kentucky to go in the North, where the industrial towns would allow them to earn more money. They chose Detroit, because several people they knew had found a job there, in the defense industry; Furthermore, Detroit was not far away from Pineville.
On February 2, 1944, Norma Jeane wrote to her sister
In 1944, Norma Jeane visited her in Detroit. Paris worked at Ford, Berniece at DeSoto, and Niobe, Paris sister, did domestic cleaning work while she was undergoing training at Chrysler. Little Mona Rae attended kindergarten.
During her stay, Norma Jeane visited Detroit and they went to Canada, notably at the Miner's Bird Sanctuary in
From Chicago where she lived, Grace McKee sent a telegraph; she had learned, from Ana Lower, that Jim Dougherty, Norma Jeane's husband, was about to be back. The Miracles helped Norma Jeane to pack, so that she could go to Chicago (to see Grace) and Huntington, Virginia (to see Doc and Bebe Goddard) before going back to California.
In the letters exchanged between the 2 sisters, Norma Jeane used to continuously talk about Merchant Marine, trying to convince Paris to come in California and to join them.
Few months later, the Miracles went to live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Tennessee Eastman Company offered good opportunities of work; furthermore, it was closer to Pineville, their real home.In 1945, Paris was called up by the Army but was exempt, to his deep sadness, because of a former surgery.
On March 2, 1945, Norma
Jeane wrote to Berniece; she kept annoying them about their living in California.
She wrote her that Jim was back since 3 weeks (February) and that they had spent few days at Big Bear Lake, a seaside resort located near their home.
On June 4, 1945, Norma Jeane wrote to Berniece that Jim had left since 2 weeks; from then on, she lived at Ana Lower and she continued her modelling work :
Gladys was about to leave the Agnews State Hospital; Norma Jeane was very happy about her mother's progress.
Summer 1945, Gladys had left the Agnews State Hospital, under the condition that she stayed a year to her aunt's home, Dora Graham, in Portland, Oregon.
Dora wrote to her that Gladys seemed focused on a Christian Science book, and that she wanted to take care of sick people, without the help of medicine. She first worked in short-term job and close to Dora's house, then accepted jobs more distant. Her job consisted of housework and non medical cares, to patient in convalescence or disabled.
In August 1946, Berniece decided to go to Los Angeles to see her mother, who had left Portland and had settled at Ana Lower's home, with Norma Jeane. She arrived at the Burbank airport, with her daughter Mona Rae; Norma Jeane, Grace McKee, Ana Lower and Gladys were there to welcome them.
She lived at Ana Lower's home and shared the first floor room with Gladys.
Norma Jeane took lessons at the Fox studios, lessons of dance, theater, music and elocution. At home, she reahearsed the exercises, regularly practised them and worked daily to improve her diction.Gladys became obsessed by the Christian Science; she found out that, thanks to Ana Lower's "healer practitioner" talents, the mind possibilities upon illness, and devoutly studied many book son that subject.
During one of their visits, Grace McKee took them to the East of Los Angeles, near Folsom Street and Soto and Euclid, to show them a house which had been built, stone by stone, by their grand-father, Otis Monroe. Grace also took them to Highlands Avenue, near the Hollywood Bowl, to show them the house Gladys had purchased, then sold.
Berniece liked Los Angeles a lot, but didn't manage to convince Paris to settled there; this one prefered to stay near his parents.
At first his salary was 35$ a week.
In February 1947, the Miracles settled in Orlando, Florida (they had borrowed 300$ to Paris mother). Paris worked as a pork butcher, then as a painter, then as salesman at Hughes Supply Electrical and Plumbing.
In 1948, Berniece learned the death of Ana Lower in a letter sent by Grace McKee.
50's, she met Marilyn several times; Marilyn introduced her to Joe DiMaggio.
1950-1951, Berniece had a degree to work as a bookkeeper, but she had to refuse the offers bacause the Hughes Supply transfered Paris to the company branch in Gainesville, Florida.
For a year, Paris made round-trips between Orlando and Gainesville, waiting for Mona Rae to end her 6th grade, and to the sale of their house in Orlando.
Then, they settled in an apartment in Gainesville, in June 1951.
Fall 1951, Berniece father, John Baker, died.
September 8, 1954, letter from Berniece to Ervin Goddard .
In 1957 Mona Rae graduated and attended the Florida State University in Tallahassee; she wanted to become a teacher.
Berniece passed a job interview for a bookkeeper job at the University of Florida.
In December 1957 Mona Rae became engaged.
In March 1958, Wilbourn, Paris father, died.
In May 1958 Mona Rae got married.April 28, 1960, letter from Berniece to Marilyn ,,
In July 1961 Berniece was in New York City, to visit Marilyn.
She accompanied her at Roxbury so that Marilyn took her stuff.
Marilyn visited her in Gainesville (Florida) where she lived.
They stayed in contact during the last years of Marilyn.
She was one of the first people informed about Marilyn's death, and helped Joe to organize the funeral.
On August 6, 1962, Inez Melson came to pick her up at the Los Angeles International Airport (,
complete the required formalities for the funeral ,-,-
On August 7, 1962
After the funeral, she stayed at Enid and Sam Knebelkamp's home, Grace McKee's sister and brother-in-law.
Letter from Ida Bolender, dated August 8, 1962 .
In her will, Marilyn left her 10 000$.
Visiting Gladys in 1966, at the Rockhaven Sanitarium -
In 1967 she took charge of her mother; Gladys went to live next to her in Florida.
"My Sister Marilyn" B.Baker Miracle, NC, Algonquin Books ; 1994."Marilyn, ma sœur", de Berniece Baker Miracle et Mona Rae Miracle. Editions AJ.
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