Monday, January 20, 2014

Alice Shepard Riggs - If you don't like what you're hearing, take out your hearing aid!

The incident recorded by Marash Girl yesterday (scroll down) brought to mind one day, many years ago, when Marash Girl went to  the Walker Missionary Home in Auburndale, Massachusetts,  to visit Alice Shepard Riggs in order to arrange an oral history interview with this missionary, daughter of Dr. Fred Douglas Shepard (a medical missionary who witnessed the genocide and ministered both physically and spiritually to the survivors).  
  Mrs. Riggs, the author of  Shepard of Aintab (, had worked with the Armenians in Aintab (today known as Gaziaintep) after the war and helped organize a lace making cottage industry amongst the women who had been left without hearth and home, a home based industry creating lace that would be sent to Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts) to sell there, the proceeds of which would be returned to Aintab and used to support life for the women who had survived the Genocide.

Alice Shepard Riggs was 94 at the time that Marash girl visited her, in full possession of her wits, but not her hearing.  Marash Girl's little daughters, Nisha and Lorig, were so excited to meet her that they couldn't stop chattering.  Mrs. Riggs admonished them:  "If you girls don't stop talking, I'll take out my hearing aids and then I won't be able to hear anything you say!"  Nisha, a second  (or third?) generation Armenian, remembers the incident as being the very first time she had ever met an "old lady" who spoke English without an Armenian accent!

The interview is available for researchers at the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts.


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