By Kristina Houck
Betty Ann Hoehn remembers riding in the back of the bus as a young child. It wasn’t by choice. She couldn’t sit in the front when she traveled with Corinne, her African-American nanny.
Born in 1954, Hoehn grew up in Memphis, Tenn. The Del Mar author shares memories of her childhood in the segregated South in her newly released memoir, “One River, Two Oceans and Raindrops in Between: My Journey through Life, Love and Recovery.”
“I was raised by a black woman. Even though it’s a memoir and touches on many topics of my life, Corinne is the spiritual thread throughout the entire book,” Hoehn said. “It’s a story of an abiding friendship that crossed racial lines — the unbreakable bond that we had.”
Corinne raised Hoehn from the time she was 5 until she went off to college.
“She was an educated woman. She had a college education, but because of her color, she could not get a job beyond being a nanny,” Hoehn said. “She was a very strong, amazing woman.”
“One River, Two Oceans and Raindrops in Between” captures the pair’s relationship.
“I had never written a book and really didn’t know what to do the first time,” said Hoehn, noting she used AuthorHouse, a self-publishing service that cut 70 pages of her original manuscript. “I just wasn’t happy with it.
“The whole story was really important to me, and I thought it would be important to the reader.”
The book, which Hoehn has worked on since 2007, also explores addiction and loss.
For years, Hoehn watched family members succumb to alcohol addiction. After losing her mother and going through a divorce in the early 1990s, she also battled the disease.
“It’s a story of unconditional love, it’s a story of hope, it’s a story of fighting and overcoming addiction, it’s a story of friendship,” Hoehn said. “It’s a story of life and death.”
Corinne raised Hoehn from 1959 to 1974.
Hoehn went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College in 1976 and later earn a master’s from the University of Memphis in 1997. She moved to San Diego in 1977, and has lived in Del Mar since 1999. A former adjunct professor of art history at the University of San Diego, she currently serves as an art history guest lecturer at local museums, as well as the Betty Ford Center.
Corinne died in the late 1980s. Hoehn last saw her nearly 30 years ago, in 1986, when she introduced her then 4-year-old daughter and nearly 2-year-old son to her longtime friend.
“It’s a story of Corinne’s influence on my life,” said Hoehn, now 60 years old. “It’s really through her spirit that I’ve overcome different obstacles in my life.”
“One River, Two Oceans and Raindrops in Between” is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
For more information about Hoehn and her book, visit www.bettyannhoehn.com.