The City That Stole My Heart: The Life of Pocahontas Annawana Corbett née Thomas
The Texas Story Project.
From the big industrial cities of the East Coast to the seventh most populous city in the United States. Pocahontas Annawana Thomas began her life with a mis-spelled name in the city of Washington, D.C.
Pocahontas would describe her upbringing as an average middle-class working family, in an average working-class neighborhood, where family values were at their highest priority.
But despite her own Native-American ancestry, the description of the community that she primarily lived in, during her pre-teen and teen years (Camden, New Jersey) was one of confusion. She described how living in a predominately African-American neighborhood left her and her two siblings searching for a shared community. While her younger sister. Margret. migrated towards black culture, Pocahontas explained how she found a sense of community in Hispanic culture.
This can really be seen, when at the invitation to attend a Catholic mass with a childhood friend, at the young age of 16, Pocahontas converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. This experience, she joyfully described, changed the course of her life. It wasn’t too long after, that she would meet the man she would later marry.
Newly-married to a military man, at the ripe age of eighteen, Pocahontas experienced life as a military wife. The early years were spent constantly on the move, from being stationed at the Gem State of Idaho, to even the cold and foggy country of England. Pocahontas and her first husband, along with their young sons Dannie Jr. and Benjamin were on the search for their forever home, a place where she described, would be one that could foster the growth of two young boys. She finally found this place in the greatest State of the Union—Texas.
Described as the “perfect place to raise a family,” San Antonio stole Pocahontas’s heart when her little family of four were stationed at the Lackland Air Force Base.
As she explained, “Compared to the big industrial cities of the east coast, San Antonio was like one big suburb. My boys wouldn't be cramped up in a big city with very bad public schools and neighborhoods riddled with gang violence.” It was an ideal place where, “They would be able to ride their bikes and roam the neighborhood with their friends. They would be able to go to good schools where the emphasis would be on learning and positive life experiences.”
The environment that San Antonio provided was important, because as Pocahontas described, “Philadelphia in the 1960s was ugh, … the 14-year-old boy who lived across the street from me was killed in a gang fight. Parents had to keep their kids inside their homes to keep them safe. Parents had to be outside with their children when they were playing on their street or at the city park to make sure their kids were safe.” San Antonio in her view was nothing like Philadelphia or New Jersey, “here you could be secure in your belief that your kids were safe, and not getting into trouble.”
As the seventh grandchild of Pocahontas Annawana Corbett nee Thomas, it was edifying to learn a part of my family’s history beyond my 21 years of life.
My name is Samantha Nicole Luckey and my story is a simple one. Born and raised in San Antonio, I stayed after my high school graduation to pursue a double degree in Economics and Political Science at St. Mary’s University.
Posted October 18, 2018