Orphan Survival Stories Index |
"You damn orphan kids are nothing more to me than a herd of caribou."
I believe I was about 12 years old when I stood before Judge Gooding and he spoke those words. He then sentenced me to spend the next six years of my life at the Florida School for Boys (reform school) located in Marianna, Florida.
I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I can recall the hollow sounds of the courtroom doors, the look in the judge's eye and the tone of his voice as he shook his head back and forth in total disgust. I was not even afraid as I stood there before him. I was just a young boy looking up at a great big man sitting at a great big table.
I did not know what to do, say or think - I guess, because it really did not matter to me anymore. I suppose it was because I had already given up on life.
Boy, I really could have used a mommy to come and save me that day. I just wanted someone to help me, before I disappeared from life like all the other orphans had done before me. I was never a bad kid, even though I acted like a bit of a hellion at times. But I had to be that way to protect myself or the orphanage would have beaten me to death. That is the real truth of it all.
Another truth is that at that point in my life, I did not think I even needed a mother, mainly because I felt that I was all grown up and it was too late for me to be a boy. All I needed was someone to hold me down on the ground against my will, let me fight, cry and then just hug me, until I quit struggling.
Judge Gooding, you gave up on me just when I needed you the most. All along, I thought that judges were really smart people - that you could see things that other people could not. However, I guess I was wrong. Now the little children have nowhere to turn.