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"I think it's the cops!"

We jumped into the large bushes off to the right of the street.

"Shhhh," I said to the other two boys.

I held my finger up to my mouth and slowly, the police car passed without giving us notice. This was not the first time that some of us 6 or 7-year-olds ran away from the Children's Home Society Orphanage. However, this was the first time we ran away in search of our "moms." Older women, who we knew were out there in the free world somewhere, just waiting for us to find them so they could love us.

As the police car rounded the corner at the end of the street, we climbed out of the bushes. Once again, we set out to look for our mothers. We kept a close lookout for the police car; we knew it was searching for runaway kids from the orphan home.

"I found it," yelled one of the boys. He pointed to the red colored name painted on the side of the mailbox.

"Sure enough, it is your last name. S-M-I-T-H," I spelled out in disbelief.

The little boy started running up the long, red brick walkway toward the front door of the house.

"Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong," went the doorbell as he constantly mashed the button.

I slowly began walking up the sidewalk and stopped when I saw a woman pull the window curtain to the side.

"Can I help you?" asked the woman through the window glass as she pointed at me.

"It's your boy!" I said with a big smile on my face.

"WHAT?" said the woman as she disappeared from the window.

Suddenly, the front door opened and the woman just stood there looking at the three of us.

"My name is Bill and I've come home now, Mom," said the 6-year-old boy. He started to walk into the house carrying his dirty, brown paper bag.

The woman reached out and caught Bill by the arm as he tried to pass her.

"I'm sorry son, but this is not your house. Where do you live?" she asked.

"My name is Billy. Bill Smith and you lost me at the orphanage home. Don't you remember me?"

He looked up at her almost in tears.

"I'm sorry, but I have never seen you before. Ever," said the woman looking over at me.

"Are you Miss Smith? The one on the mailbox?" I asked.

"Yes, I am Mrs. Smith. But I don't know who any of you kids are."

"Let's go, Bill. This is not your mom," I said.

"But her name’s on the mailbox.”

Billy started to cry.

"You boys wait here and I will be right back," said the woman.

She closed the front door and I walked over by the window, where I saw the woman pick up the telephone.

"She's calling the cops on us!" I yelled.

The three of us started running down the street. We did not stop, until we reached the old, Spanish style house, which had been abandoned many years before. We sat down in the corner of one of the rooms, and took out our grape vine stubs and our package of pocket matches. Then we smoked the grape vines as though they were cigars. No one said a word for more than 15 minutes.

"Guess there could be more than one S-M-I-T-H living in the world. No telling how many "K-A-I-S-E-R-S there are," I said to Billy.

For the next two days, we traveled up and down the streets of Jacksonville looking at every mailbox and searching for our mothers. We found a few more "Smiths," but never any "Kaisers." The police finally caught us over on Riverside Avenue. They returned us to the orphanage and we got our little asses beat with a switch. We were locked in the closet for a day, with no food or water.

Twenty-eight years later, I found my mother in Cedartown, Georgia, so I telephoned her. She refused to see me, or my half-sister that I located several years earlier.

I drove up to my Mom's house late one evening just to see where she lived. The first thing I noticed was that her name was not printed on her mailbox. I guess she did not want to be found either.

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