May 11th, 2019
Ellis Paul Torrance was born on October 8, 1915 to Ellis and Jimmie Paul Torrance on their farm in rural Georgia. Paul was the first born of two children—his sister, Ellen, was born 4 years later. Paul's grandfather, James Torrance, owned a 700 acres farm, on which his family lived. His father, a sharecropper, grew cotton, peanuts, and fruit trees. Most of the family's income came from selling eggs, chicken, beef, pork, butter, and cream. They were poor and always in debt, but fared better than most of the people in the area. As a young boy, Paul was expected to work with his father and hired hands; however, he proved inadequate at farming tasks, due to a learning problem that today would be labeled a disability. The young Torrance felt the shame of his ineptitudes such as not being able to plow a straight line. In an agrarian setting, this inability was more shameful than not being able to read, write, or do arithmetic. Torrance shared “We were eating supper- daddy, mamma, my sister Ellen and I. I was 13 and shaving already. The mid-June day began before daylight with my helping to milk the cows and turn the separator. It ended after dark, the same way. I had spent the rest of the day chopping cotton. For supper we had delicious fresh English peas from our own garden. The way Mamma cooked the, they had a delicious juice- or gravy. I was eating them with a spoon- a method that still seems sensible to me. Daddy stopped eating, looked at me, and said seriously and calmly, “IT’s plain now that you’ll never be able to make a living on the farm. You’ll have to go to town and you’ll have to get an education. It’s time you learned to eat peas with a fork!” (p. 11 Authorized Biography)
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