When Ralph Broadston was two years old his parents divorced. Broadston has no memories of his father, he said, except the weekend the two met when he was in his 20s.
Broadston said his mother, Pearl, got a divorce from his absent father so that she could get “welfare” benefits to raise the three youngest of her 10 children.
Broadston said there was no indoor plumbing in the house where he grew up in Washington, Kan. The family used kerosene lamps for light until they got electricity when Broadston was five years old.
He helped his mother with chores when he could, he said, and remembers laundry days when he stood on a stool and worked the clothes stomper.
His mother was sick, he said, and was probably diabetic.
When Broadston was 10, his mother died.