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The leaves fell by the thousands, not to mention the truckloads upon truckloads of pine straw, which we raked year after year, when we orphans lived in that orphanage in Jacksonville.

Some days, it was so hot you could hardly breathe and the humidity in the air would almost choke you to death. However, that did not matter to the house parents, who looked after us at the boys’ dormitory. You raked and cleaned, rain or shine - it made no difference and if it was wintertime and there were no leaves or pine straw to rake, you would rake the sandy dirt so it always looked neat and clean.

You did not go to the bathroom without asking, nor did you ever go to get a drink of water on your own, not even when you were allowed to play, which seldom happened. No child in the orphanage was allowed to make such a decision on his or her own. In fact, we were smart enough to know if we ever snuck a drink of water or went to the bathroom without asking, we would get the holy hell beaten out of us. God only knows how many times I got the hell beaten out of me, because I was caught peeing outside. I just could not hold it any longer.

When you felt you could not take any more of the work or the heat, the house parent would call the boys over, tell them to line up at the sulfur water spigot and give them a short drink. Robert, Frankie, Wayne, Ronnie, Billy, Emmett, Frank and the other boys ran as fast as they could to get in line. After we lined up and stood at attention, the man would ask us what type of drink we wanted.

Generally, Frank Snow said, "I would like an Orange Crush, please."

The man would laugh, turn on the sulfur water faucet and tell him to drink all the Orange Crush he wanted.

I hated being treated like that and I hated the sulfur water. It stunk really badly and it tasted terrible. Worse yet, was the way they treated us. We were treated as if we were nothing more than dogs. Many of the boys did not realize what was happening to them or how badly the orphanage was treating us. We were treated like that for so long, that we finally thought it was normal. We figured all other children in the world were treated exactly the same way, even the ones who had real mommies and daddies.

GOD! How many of those little boys and girls from that orphanage made it to jailhouses, reform schools or prisons? How many ended up living on the streets? Some ended up selling themselves, because they did not know how to make a decision on their own. Just a little hug or kiss occasionally, would have made that water taste so much better.

The answer to my above question is 82 per cent. The only reason it is not higher is because 11 per cent died in the process. The other 7 percent will not talk about what happened. They do not want anybody else to know, especially their spouses, friends or bosses. However, they themselves know what the truth is; they are the ones who have to sleep with it every night. Don't they?

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