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THE SYSTEM SHEDS A TEAR? HA!



I suppose the system will read what I have written, and talk among themselves about what a "good job" they did. After all, it only took 19 years of beatings and abuse to turn this orphan into a published author.

I wonder what they will think when they read my writing in books such as “Orphan, A True Story,” “American Orphan” and “The Sad Orphan.” I also have eight stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Many stories have been published in the books: Heartwarmers, and Heartwarmers of Love. The two-book series entitled A Cool Collection #1 and #2 contain my stories, not to mention hundreds of other books and web sites that have displayed my work.

I wonder if they will feel proud of themselves, because they (the orphanage) produced an author from their prison. I guess it is only right if they do and take some of the credit. If not for them, my stories would not exist.

Possibly, I look at things differently than other abused children. Maybe I am just an unappreciative "Orphan Bastard" (as I was called by many of the matrons), who has not seen the true light of day. After all, I was clothed, fed and housed better than most orphans I know.

I do have to admit the Children's Home Society located in Jacksonville, Florida was one of the most beautiful places in that city. Well, it used to be that way when the slaves (I mean the kids) kept the grounds neat, clean and raked. I suppose I do owe them a debt of gratitude. After all, they did sustain my life in spite of all the beatings and abuse they bestowed upon me. That is not my major complaint with this or any other orphanage.

My complaint arises, because I spent my entire childhood in a confined, fenced-in area located in a great country known as the United States of America. As a child, I was isolated from the outside world, isolated from the real world. And it was that precise world I would have to live in one day.

The orphanage might as well have been called a prison for small children, because that is exactly what it was. There was never any form of caring, love, affection, kindness, tenderness, attention, gentleness, generosity or sympathy. There was absolutely NOTHING!

The things "free" to most other children, we never had. All we were ever given cost money, such as food, clothing and shelter. What all orphanages overlook is that the "free things" are the spiritual foods that make a child grow to become upstanding citizens. When orphans grow up, they will give back to society exactly what they received as children and nothing more. That being the case, most likely they will give back abuse, anger and hatred.

However, "the system" does not view it that way. In fact, they still think that in order to get "goodness" out of a child, they must beat it out of them. They attempt to force good things out of the children. If that does not work, they ship these children off to reform schools, jails and/or prisons. Then, the children experience cruel and extreme treatment that turns them into confused young criminals. That is what happened to me and many other kids living at the orphanage.

It really amazes me how orphanages think they can force "two plus two equals four" out of little children when they never take time to give them the information to begin with. The orphanage, day after day, year after year, keeps on kicking, punching, beating and punishing the children. They never seem to understand that they are not going to get the answer they want. The children cannot give them the answer they want, because they do not know it. The only thing that the children can give them in the end is a "very unhappy" and "lonely" result.

Figuring out the problem is not difficult at all. How can a schoolteacher do a good job teaching, if she has 60 to 80 children in her classroom? She cannot. So how does the orphanage expect a house parent to love 60 to 80 children? That cannot be done either, so what does the orphanage do? Absolutely nothing. The children just have to learn to live with the problem, thinking the entire time they are better off in a "bad situation," rather than living on the streets. The people at the orphanage feel there is “no problem” to be solved, as long as no one is complaining that a problem exists.

Even the orphan children do not realize that a major problem exists. They will not realize that, until they become adults. These orphan children think this type of treatment is not “normal.” They do not realize children living outside the orphanage have a much better life.

What we really have here is a very beautiful "Puppy Mill." Believe me, everything looks pretty darned good from the outside. It is true that most of today’s orphans are fed, clothed and housed as well as children who do have parents. However, the real story goes so much deeper.

This orphan thing has become really "big business." It is composed of many people, each playing a role and each acting like a big shot. They plan their little parties, drink wine and eat cheese, while pretending to do wonderful things for the community. Many people are on the payroll, as are their friends. Each one of them paid big bucks to meet and party at the Marriott Hotel. The entire time, they patted each other on the back, hoping no one would see what was really happening.

Please don’t think that I do not appreciate what I was given. That is not what I am taking about here. I am talking about all those wonderful people who run home after their meetings, grab their own children and give them a great big hug and a great big kiss, before tucking them into bed. Yet the very kids that they strive to help - the very children that they work for every day - have never had a hug or even a kiss, before they were sent to bed. And more often than not, generally they were sent to bed in a harsh manner.

I remember Bill Stroud breaking his arm when he fell off the top of the boys' building. He was not treated like a little boy with a broken arm. He was treated like a “thing” that needed to be fixed. Therefore, they beat his little ass and then fixed him. The last I heard of Billy, he was serving time in the Florida State Prison at Raiford. That is one tough joint. Bill was the best looking boy in the orphanage. Today, he could be right up there in the top of television soaps. Instead, he is a convict with a broken arm.

I am not saying that Billy should not have gone to prison. What I am saying is this: Bill Stroud's life took that direction because of a lack of compassion and love from the Children's Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida. Gee, who would ever think this would happen to Billy? He was clothed, fed and housed so well. I wonder if a great big hug and a great big kiss would have made a great big difference in his life.

I guess what is not understandable to me is this: When these children start to branch out into society, they were not prepared to be lovable, kind, considerate, understanding or gentle. All they knew was how to get along with the group, the bunch, the herd and the gang. This "gang" was their family. The teachings, feelings and emotions that are present in the normal family household are non-existent in the orphanage. These emotions do not happen automatically; they are taught throughout the years.

You cannot take a wolf raised in the wild, drop it into the middle of downtown Jacksonville and expect it to eat at a fancy restaurant using good manners. It is just not going to happen.

I can tell those of you that have no idea about life in an orphanage that it is like your first day of kindergarten. Your parents drop you off, but they never come back, ever. You sleep, eat and live in that school building. You never leave for the next 15 to 18 years. You never enter a mall or a store of any kind. You can stand by a window and cry your little eyes out, but no one cares, no one gives a damn. You can feel sad and lonely all you want. No one cares. However, I will tell you this: when it is time to eat, you had better have your little ass in that chow line or you would get the pure living crap knocked out of you.

Of course, your teacher will do the best she can to care for you. She will treat you well. However, do not expect any of this love “thing.” There are 80 other kids in your class. She does not have time to coddle you. Even if the teacher does love children, how can she love all 80 of them? She cannot. Therefore, she gets use to it. Just sit your little ass down and shut up.

Besides, how is she going to control all of these children? She can only control the mass of children by doing one thing. She must make every child no matter what age, do exactly the same thing at exactly the same time, every day, year after year. Can you even imagine having to live like that?

Can you imagine having to go to the bathroom when someone else decides you have to go? You are forbidden to decide yourself. You are forbidden to think on your own. Thinking will be decided for you. The teacher knows that if any child were allowed to think on his own, it would throw the entire class into a state of chaos. God forbid a child should begin to develop into an individual person. Such a thing cannot and “will not be tolerated.”

Can you imagine having 80 little individuals running around doing their own thing, each being their own little person - each one trying to think in a different direction and all doing it at the same time? Well, it happened to us orphans. This is when they sent these evil kids off to reform schools, jails and prisons.

As I said, this orphan stuff is "powerful business" and I stress the word POWER. The "normal" growing up process is viewed by the orphanage as a disruption to the unit as a whole and "cannot be allowed” under any circumstances.

A boy sneaking into the clothing room to get a long pair of pants for his first day of high school was not a criminal. The boy, who climbed up the big oak tree in the center of the orphanage grounds, was not a criminal. The boy, who took a bike from the girls' dormitory to experience his first bike ride, was not a criminal. The boy, who dug a hole to make an army fort, was not a criminal.

Oh yes, the boy who sent Elaine Smith that little note telling her how much he liked her? He was not a criminal. That one I will never forget, probably because that was the first time my heart was ever broken and totally crushed. I was made to feel like a sex fiend or a pervert at the age of 10. I was simply a little boy growing up. It was not a man wanting to do the "wild thing." Evidently, the orphanage could not tell the difference.

I will never forget the time they locked me in the heater-room. I was accused (guilty actually) of looking at Vel Addison’s crotch when she came out in those tight, white, short pants. That was not a criminal act either. It was just a young boy starting to develop normal human feelings for another human being. There was no one to help us kids direct or redirect those thoughts and feelings. There was no one to explain these were normal feelings, but that they must be contained.

I remember the first and only dog we ever had at the orphanage. I have no idea where she came from. We named her "Honey," a big, old, ugly bird dog that was brown and white. We loved that dog and that dog loved all the kids. I will never forget being told that a car outside the orphanage gate had hit Honey. I would not walk out that gate for fear of seeing Honey lying dead in the road.

After school Mrs. Winters, the head matron, called me to the office. She made me go out and with my bare hands, pick up pieces of Honey from the road. I will never forget that sight for as long as I live. It was worse than horrible. Her insides were all over the place. I was covered with her blood from head to toe. I will never forget the look on Honey's face, as she lay dead. I knew that dog would never love me again. I cried the entire time.

Again, those of you who are not orphans will not get the true message. Having to clean up my own dead dog was not the point. The fact that there was no one who gave a damn how we children felt is the real issue. There was never anyone to hold us or tell us that everything was going to be okay. There was never anyone who gave a damn if our little hearts were ripped apart. The orphanage only saw a dead dog in the road and “a bunch of whining, little bastards.”



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