Sunday, May 20, 2012
Cher's Birth: My Mom and I Were There
One reader at 'Imperial Valley Press Online', Donna Hampton, contacted the news outlet to share her - and her Mother's - story of being delivered at the same time as Cher in the same El Centro hospital ward:
"The record of her birth has been sealed - tighter than a drum - but that doesn’t matter. It’s documented in the 'World Almanac and Book of Facts' and she told Oprah, so it’s common knowledge.
The singer, songwriter, actress, Cher - the 'Believe', 'Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves', 'I Got You Babe' and 'Moonstruck' Cher - was born in El Centro on May 20, 1946. I know. My mom and I were there.
Every year of my adult life, my mother, on my birthday, subjected our family to the complete details of the birth - not mine, Cher’s.
After 29 hours of labor, I entered the world late in the night of 19 May. Dr. C.S. Brooks, a former U.S. Army surgeon, delivered me at the only El Centro hospital - located at the southwest corner of Tenth and Hamilton. There were eight beds in the maternity ward.
Sometime around midnight, my mother (who was all of 21 years old) was resting in the darkened ward when a young woman (not quite 19, some records state) came in. She was gorgeous, my mother remembered, looked like a movie star, wore high heels and was dressed to the nines - to have a baby, for crying out loud, my mother thought. And, have a baby she did, at 7:25 in the morning, 20 May. A little girl.
Later that evening when the newborns were carried in and placed beside each mother’s side, the lives of two individuals could have been set on very different courses. As the nurse placed a tiny bundle next to my mother, the bundle was clearly not the bald, blue-eyed, fair-skinned baby with Norwegian, German and Pennsylvania Dutch blue blood pulsating through her veins.
This baby was tinier, had a warm (Armenian, Cherokee and French) tone to her skin, brown eyes and a bit of dark hair. In a moment, my mother let it be known, “THAT’S NOT MY BABY!” Indeed it wasn’t. Instead I was headed straight for the arms of the gorgeous movie star type who still looked as though she was going to a party.
The course of entertainment history might have been changed on that day, had my mother kept her mouth shut, not said anything, and if the woman across the room had not gotten a good look at her baby girl after her early morning delivery - ink-smeared cotton ID tags were the norm.
If we had gone home with the wrong mothers, oh my.
My mother, Ruth, had a lovely voice and sang with her sisters in church, so the strong vocals chords and booming voice coming from the dark-eyed little girl sitting at her kitchen table could have been tied to the Grinder Girls from Kittanning, Penn. Cher might have ended up in the Margaret Hedrick
Elementary School chorus and with a brother named Sonny.
Had the two of us been switched that May evening, I, on the other hand, would have had a tough time pulling off harmonizing gigs while living a gypsy’s life. Once when asked if I sang “high” or “low,” the vote was 3-0 for “none of the above,” so her actress/model mom, Georgia, surely would have wondered why her anemic kid had no talent and would have put a stop to the acting lessons that clearly weren’t going to earn anyone an Oscar.
Cher and I have each reached milestones, eligible for monthly Social Security checks and senior citizen discounts at the movies. Born in the same El Centro hospital, only a few hours apart and almost switched at birth, we have a common bond. Each May her birthday is noted in People magazine. Mine was once announced on KXO radio.
Happy birthday, Babe."
Unfortunately, I could not contact Donna Hampton - no matter how hard I tried - and I tried!. Donna, if you do manage to see this, then please contact me - you deserve to have your photo on this article!