In the interim, my daughter and I are driving around in our Volkswagen van, which weighs, you know, like tissue paper. So when the wind blows, you know, you're hold it, sliding around. And she and I were going to buy--I'd gotten some money for my birthday and we were going to buy her shoes. And we had NPR [National Public Radio] on, I think, and we turned it on and heard this woman doing this reading. And it was just amazing. And, you know, I'm driving and I'm listening, and I say to Alex [Alex Martin], "This is kind of amazing story, huh?" She says, "Can we listen to it?" I was like, "Yeah, should we pull over?" She said, "Yeah, yeah, let's pull--." So we pulled over. And it was Alice [Alice Walker] doing a partial reading of 'The Color Purple' [Alice Walker]. And so (laughter), Alex said, "Can we, can we get this book? Can we buy the book?" I said, "Well, we're going to buy shoes." She said, "Can we do both?" I said, "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know if we can." So we didn't get the shoes that she said that she wanted, that I saved for her to get. We got shoes that she wasn't really that interested in, and we got 'The Color Purple.' So we read it, she and I read it together. And when it was done, I, I just, you know, I wrote a letter to the, to the back of the book, the, you know, they tell you where the offices are. So I wrote a, wrote a letter to Alice Walker. I said, my name is [HistoryMaker] Whoopi Goldberg, and I work in Berkeley, California, and this is what I do, and here's some of my work, 'cause I'd been doing Moms Mabley. I--all these different shows that, you know, 'cause you're trying to hone your skills. And, you know, I've never made a movie before, but if they ever make a movie of this, I'd be happy to play the dirt on the floor. Whoopi Goldberg. So now, I get this invitation, you know, weeks later to come and I--oh, and I say, I'm going to New York [New York]. I, I--yes, I think I'm cheeky enough to say I'm, I'm going to New York, and this is where I'm gonna be staying and, 'cause I just assumed she would write me back 'cause that's hubris. You don't, you have no idea. And so I got to 288 - 10th Avenue, and my mother [Emma Harris Johnson] said, "Oh, this came for you," and she, she handed me this purple envelope. And I said, "Who's this from?" And it said, Alice Walker (laughter). I went, "It says Alice Walker, Ma." She says, "Is that the, the lady that wrote the book?" I said, "Yeah." She said, "Well, what does it say?" I opened it up. It says, Dear Whoopi, I know your work. I live up in the Bay Area [San Francisco Bay Area, California]. I've seen your shows. I've already sent your stuff to the powers that be. [HistoryMaker] Quincy Jones is producing it. So and so is producing it, and, you know, maybe they will let you be dirt on the floor. So that's how that happened.$So tell me about growing up, you and your, your brother [Clyde Johnson] and your mother [Emma Harris Johnson]? Can you tell me a little bit about some of the times together?$$Yeah, I'll tell you about some good times and some, about some not-so-good times. I'll tell you about the not-so-good times. My mom got ill when I was eight or nine. I think she had a nervous breakdown, and, you know, in those days, you could not, you--children were not allowed to go to the hospitals to see them. So she virtually disappeared for two or three years. But my dad [Robert Johnson] (laughter) came to take care of us, and my dad was a gay man. And so he did his best, you know. So he put a Lilt pearl--perm in my hair. Now Lilt, 'cause only we remember Lilt, Lilt was a permanent wave solution that was really for white women. And my father felt that my hair should be wavy. So he put a Lilt perm in my hair (laughter). And so, some of my hair broke off. And then they had to sort take care of the rest of it, yeah. And then my cousin who's called Arlene, who grew up with mother--they grew up kind of, you know, literally, side-by-side, but Arlene was a redhead 'cause her mom had a German husband, slash boyfriend--who can say. But they grew up next to each other. So one was called Arlene and the other one is called Monica [ph.]. That was my mom. So I learned about a lot of this after-the-fact. But, so she got sick, and, and she was gone for a while. And when she came back I--the way I described her was like, it sounds like my mother, looks like my mother. It's not my mother. It's like invasion of the body snatchers because what you learn later on is that they used--$$Electric shock therapy.$$Yes, yeah. So when I got much older, and my brother and I would talk to her about it because I think it was a, a pivotal time. I think it's when I came into my own because I realized suddenly that people go--can go away like that. And so that was like, okay, I need to learn how to take care of myself so I can be self-sufficient. So my brother and I said, so what, what was that like? And she said, "Well, I don't remember a lot of it." She said, and that was the hardest thing "'Cause I never, ever wanted to look like I was ill again." I never wanted to seem like I didn't feel good. So my mother never went to another doctor after she got home, ever, because she didn't want anyone to say, "Oh, you look odd or something." So she just never went into a hospital, and never went to a doctor. And I said, but, you know, what happened? She said, "Well, when I came home, I didn't really know you guys. But I had to fake it because (laughter) I didn't wanna go back." So she got to learn about us all over again. And as kids, my brother and I--no, as adults, we shared a lot of information, 'cause I'd say, "Did this really, did this happen? Do you remember this?" And he'd go, "Yeah, yeah, but I don't remember it that way. I remember it like this." So we sort of raised my mom, and then she went on to become an amazing Head Start teacher and just an amazing woman. She worked at the Hudson Guild in Chelsea [New York, New York] as a Head Start teacher. And they liked her so much that they put her through college, and she, you know, graduated NYU [New York University, New York, New York] and, you know, and had a lot of kids come through her class, the Wayans brothers were her kids and all kinds of amazing stuff. And then I, of course, I got famous and said, "You wanna get outta here?" And she's like, "Yes, I'd like to." I said, "Okay, when can you come?" And she said, "Well, when would you like me?" I said, "I'll send you a ticket for next week." So my mother came. She got off the plane. She had a paper bag with her. And we went, and I was gonna take her to the bags. I said, "Where's your bag?" She said, "I didn't bring any." I said, "Are you, you plan to go--?" She said, "No, no. I just locked up the place and left." She locked up, 288 10th Avenue, apartment 6D and never looked back. She took nothing. Fresh start, clean start.$$That's an amazing story.$$She was an amazing woman (laughter). She was amazing woman.$$Do you know what her illness was? Do you know? Did she ever know that (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Nervous breakdown, I guess, whatever the--$$She had a nervous--too much, things too much (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I don't know, yeah, thing--I think it, it did become, it became overwhelming because, you know, I guess in those days, you know, you would go and try to fight and try to get things done. And, you know, judges would look at you and say, you know, not really pay attention to the fact that you actually needed help. So she said, "I, you know, I tried as hard as I could and, and then I--." She said, "I just, I don't know what happened."