Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE WISHING WELL
I had never heard of a museum before. In fact, I did not even know what one was. When you live in an orphanage, you live in a totally locked-up society. It might as well be a prison. Those living within this fenced and confined area rarely know what is happening in the outside world.
I walked up and asked the teacher if she could tell me what a museum was. She sat down at her desk and explained to me that a museum was a special place where things from the past are kept; and the museum that we were going to see was even more special. It was a museum designed just for children. Everything in the museum was made by or for children.
We were loaded onto several school buses and off we went, headed somewhere into the great big city of Jacksonville Florida. As we traveled down the many roads, turning this way and that with all kinds of cars and busses, I could hardly believe the stores and large buildings I saw. I was only 7 years old and had never seen a real city before. However, I did ride on a train one time.
As we traveled, many of the children were talking about a "Wishing Well" they saw at the Children's Museum. I was sitting next to Sue King, a girl in my class, so I asked her what a wishing well was. She told me that you threw money in this white, round wooden thing, then you made a wish and the wish would come true.
"Anything I want will come true?" I asked her.
I was excited and could hardly wait to get to the museum so I could see that wishing well. When we arrived, we all lined up single file and headed into the white building. I walked along with the other children looking from right to left and then from left to right to see if I could find the wishing well. It was nowhere to be seen.
"Where is the wishing well?" I kept asking.
"SHHHH, the woman in the front of the line kept saying.
Finally, we were allowed to walk around the museum on our own, but told not to touch anything.
"Just look. Do not touch, they told us.
I did not know who would want to touch all that ugly stuff anyway. None of it was pretty and the kids who made the stuff were probably already old anyway. As I walked back toward the front of the building, I saw most of the kids crowded around the front door. I walked over and could see the wishing well was behind the front door, sitting back in the corner. That is why I could not find it right off. I made my way to it, looked inside and saw there was lots of money lying in the bottom. Several of the kids were throwing money into the well and then closing their eyes for a minute or so.
"Why are you closing your eyes? I asked a boy.
"If you don't close your eyes, your wish will not come true," he said.
I closed my eyes real tight and stood there making my wish. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You got to put money in it first or you don't get a wish.
"I don't have any money."
"Then you don't get a wish," he said walking away.
I did not know what I was going to do. We did not get any money at the orphanage home. There was no money to give us cause we were poor. However, I wanted to make my wish. I had to get some money from somewhere and I had to get it quick. I ran around asking the other kids if I could have some money to make a wish. But they had already put all their money into the well and made their wishes. I walked up to the woman who was showing us everything in the museum and asked her if I could have some money. She stopped, looked down at me and said, "SHHHH." She said it rather loud and then walked away.
I saw Sue King standing by the wishing well, so I ran over and asked her if she had any money. She said all she had left was her milk money. I asked if she had made a wish in the wishing well and she said yes. When I asked her what she had wished for she told me, "If you make a wish and tell anyone, then it will not come true."
I walked around for a long time. I kept looking for any money that might have dropped on the floor so I could make a wish in the wishing well. However, I never found any. I finally walked back up front where the wishing well was and saw there was nobody around. I walked up and looked inside.
"Hello down there," I said into the hollow tube.
It was strange hearing my voice sound like that. I bent over again to say something else into the well and saw a shiny dime lying on top of all the pennies. I knew that wish would come true because dimes were worth a lot. I looked around behind me and no one was anywhere in the area. I slowly reached down into the wishing well, but could not reach the coin. Further and further I tried to stretch, but I just could not reach the bottom of the well.
All of a sudden, I went crashing head first into the wishing well. Everyone came running out of all the other rooms. Several of the boys started laughing at me and one of the women who worked at the museum called for a man to help get me out of the well. I was taken to the office and the museum people called the orphanage. They asked Mother Winters, the head matron, if she wanted them to take me to the doctor, because I was bleeding on my face and arm. She told them that I was to stay at the museum and she would send someone to get me.
The rest of the children were then loaded onto the buses and returned to Spring Park Elementary School. One of the women from the orphanage office came to get me in the old station wagon. She did not say anything to me at all. When we arrived back at the orphanage, Mother Winters took me into the dining room and made me sit down in a chair. She went into her bedroom and came out with a bandage that she stuck on my forehead. Then she took me into the bathroom and made me look into the mirror. On the bandage was written the word "THIEF" in real big, blue letters. She told me that I was to wear it the rest of the school day and if I took it off, I would get nothing to eat for a week. Several minutes later, a woman from the main office took me on to school.
When I was in the wishing well, I got that dime and I made my wish. I wished that God would fix my ears so that they would not stick out so far, that all the other kids would stop making fun of me and that I could have a girlfriend one day that would like me. Several years later, I got my wish and someone took me to the Children's Hospital. They operated on my ears and made them not stick out so far. However, they got one ear back further than the other. Because of that, I still never got a girlfriend, until I was 16 or 17.
Ever since that time, even on my birthday, I have never made another wish and I never will.