Affectionately known as the Mother of 8th Street, Bessie Rainey Simmons has been keeping kids in line for years. Helping children has become her trademark. She's nothing short of a legend in her Lubbock neighborhood. And on Saturday, those who admire her most, threw her a 75th birthday bash.
Bessie Rainey Simmons entered the room, and was instantly immersed in hugs and well wishes. A 75th birthday party for the Mother of 8th Street. "I met her when I was 9 or 10. She's like a mother to me," says Ira Fobbs. Fobbs came all the way from Dallas to be here for the party.
If you were to pass her on the street, you might not notice what make this woman so special. But, spend a few short moments with her, and you'll know almost instantly. "You doing good in school? Don't bow your head. Open your mouth and talk. 'I'm doing good and minding the teacher,'" says Bessie and one of her granddaughters.
Bessie is known for keeping an entire neighborhood of children in line with tough love. She says God has just blessed her with a knack for getting through to kids. "I'd see them when they did right and did wrong. I always seen them. They still love me, and I thank God for that," says Bessie.
Bessie encouraged the sometimes discouraged, embraced the untrustworthy and gave every child a chance to succeed. And on this night, the old neighborhood gathers to pay tribute to the woman on 8th Street with an oversized heart. The woman who not only raised her own children, but an entire neighborhood. "She showed love. If we ate, 20 kids ate. No double standards," says her daughter Mary Mitchell.
She's the woman who never met a challenge she wasn't up to, or a child worth leaving behind. And today, she just continues to do what comes natural. Raising children to be responsible, well-mannered adults.