Orphan Survival Stories Index |
Every Saturday morning, the orphans in the Children's Home had to line up, and rake leaves and pine straw that had fallen from the trees during the previous week. The large piles were then scattered among the hundreds of azalea bushes planted around the orphanage.
One particular Saturday, I was raking leaves with Robert Gillman and Wayne Evers. Robert grabbed a large arm full of leaves and walked into a large section of azalea bushes to scatter them about. When I looked up, he had disappeared somewhere in the large rows of bushes. I told Wayne that I thought Robert was deliberately hiding from us. He was going to leave all the raking for us and I thought we should discontinue, until he returned.
We waited about five minutes, but Robert never came back, so we started looking for him. We searched from the far end of the azalea bushes and worked our way toward the opposite end, which was about 150 feet away. All of a sudden, we heard screaming and yelling. We ran out of the bushes and noticed that it was Robert Gillman and he was slapping himself all over his pants and shirt. Then he fell on the ground and wiggled all over the place. He was screaming as if he were being killed or something.
Wayne and I thought he was playing a joke on us, so he wouldn’t have to rake the yard; you know how 8 or 9 year old boys are. We just walked back over, picked up our rakes and stood there looking at him. However, he never stopped yelling, screaming or wiggling. Then Wayne walked over to Robert and noticed that there were yellow jackets flying out of his shirt and pants. There were hundreds of them everywhere and they were stinging him all over his body. He just kept wiggling and yelling, and wiggling. Finally, Wayne yelled for someone to help him. He also hollered at me to go and get the house parents, so I ran toward the boys' building. Wayne ran to get the hose to see if spraying water on Robert would get the yellow jackets away from him.
I ran into the boys’ building and went from room to room looking for the house parents. I found them in the small kitchen downstairs baking an angel food cake. I told them what happened to Robert and that he needed help right away. They told me to be quiet; they could not come out, until the cake was out of the oven. I waited, so I could show them where Robert was lying.
I guess it took five minutes for them to get the cake out of the oven. They complained the whole time that us kids were a bunch of idiots. They said, if our parents had been smart at all, they would have taken us out and cut our heads off when we were first born. That way, the world would be a lot better off. However, that did not bother me. They talked like that all the time and we were use to it. I do not think they really meant any of that stuff anyway, but it sure made you feel bad sometimes when they talked like that.
Finally, they came to help Robert. He looked bad too. His entire body was covered with yellow jacket stings. They were everywhere - all over his face, arms, hands and neck. Heck, he even had bumps in his red hair. He was getting sick and throwing up on the ground. I kicked some dirt over the vomit and thought that I might come back later, pick it up in a shoebox, and dump it in the house parents’ bed. That is, if I could get up enough nerve.
I guess they took Robert to the hospital, because I did not see him again for several days. We heard he was going to die from all the stings, so we never went back into the azalea bushes, ever again. We just threw the leaves and pine straw into the bamboo area where no one could see it. When Robert did come back from the infirmary, which is where they took him, he was a mess. He was swollen and had sores all over his freckles. I remember telling him that he looked like a freak and then he beat my ass terribly.
However, we were still friends I guess. Robert still lives in Jacksonville, Florida. He is married with several children and maybe a few grandchildren. He has chosen not to speak to me since I wrote the book "Orphan, A True Story of Abandonment, Abuse and Redemption,” exposing what they did to the kids in that orphanage.