Susie was born in Lakewood as the privileged daughter of Texas oilman Spencer Black, but she was barely 6 when Spencer died in a plane crash. Susie’s stepmother, Beth Black, received custody of Spencer’s five young children, including Susie.
Beth didn’t fare well with single-mom status. Beth was Spencer’s fifth wife after a whirlwind romance, and she was a recovering alcoholic. In her book “My Five Moms,” Susie details how Beth barely made it a year after Spencer’s death before she plunged headlong into alcoholism. And with the extreme alcoholism came extreme abuse, she says.
The dinner hour became a daily nightmare, Susie remembers. Every day when the five Black children arrived home from school, Beth would wake up from her drunken stupor and stumble down the stairs, and dinnertime would begin — complete with slapping, hair pulling, choking and beatings. Then she’d stumble back up the stairs and pass out for the night. Sometimes she’d wake the kids up in the middle of the night and scream at them to put away the clothes she’d just pulled out of the closet or drawers, or arrange the boxes and cans of food she’d strewn across the kitchen floor.
“We didn’t think we’d make it out alive,” Susie says. “We honestly thought Beth was going to kill us.”
Beth somehow managed to hide her behavior from the neighbors for several years, but she eventually cracked during an outing in downtown Dallas and was taken to a mental facility in Terrell, Texas. That kick-started a couple of different stints of the Black children being shuffled between foster homes and living with Beth or other relatives.
When Susie graduated from high school at 17, she moved to Lubbock to attend Texas Tech University and never looked back. She went from being a quiet, self-conscious teenager to a vivacious young adult.
After college, she moved to New York to work as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, and a couple of years later married her husband of 38 years, Kelly Holamon. They had two boys, Bryan and Sean, and Susie became an artist and art teacher.
For years, she had the urge to write her story, but she was nervous. Even her husband didn’t know the extent of the abuse; did she really want to put everything out there for the whole world to read?
When she retired from teaching, she decided it was now or never. She started at the beginning and, for six months straight, wrote her way through her childhood.
“I didn’t want Beth to get the last word,” Susie explains. “After the plane crash, the news stories painted her as this heroic person who survived in order to take care of us. This is the rest of the story.”
Her book, “My Five Moms,” was the result. The book was edited only lightly before being published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC earlier this year, so it reads more like a long journal entry. Susie wanted her voice to ring through the pages, she says.
She says she doesn’t have aspirations of becoming a bestselling author, but she does hope her book will do some good in her community. The proceeds for the book will benefit the Ebby House, which is a part of the Juliette Fowler Communities, to help young women transition out of the foster care system.
“My Five Moms” is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and tatepublishing.com.
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