Orphan Survival Stories Index |
“You are one of the most dangerous little criminals I have ever known in my entire life," said Mother Winters, the head matron of the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I didn't hurt anybody, Mother Winters," I said.
"That's probably next on your list."
She grabbed me by the shirt collar and forced me down into the metal chair on the breezeway porch.
"I ain't did no bad criminal things and I've never hurt nobody," I said looking up into her eyes.
"Roger Dean, you had two ‘Unsatisfactory Grades’ on your report card this term. You were caught riding one of the girls’ bicycles, which you admitted stealing from the girls’ dormitory...."
"But we boys ain't got no bik...."
"SHUT UP! You were caught numerous times climbing up into the oak tree and you were caught peeing in the azalea bushes at least three or four times this month," she said.
"But I just couldn't hold the pee-pee inside me no more. Pop Henderson said I could not go inside until suppertime. It was hurting me bad, Mother Winters."
"HOW OLD ARE YOU NOW?"
"Seven ma'am. I think."
"Seven years old and you are already a damn criminal."
She glared at me as she shook her head back and forth.
"I'm really sorry I'm so bad, Mother Winters. I really am. I really don't mean to be all bad like that."
"You will be in the damn death prison, before you are 10 or 11 years old."
"Where they kill you, Mother Winters?
"Where they kill you in the electric chair!" she exclaimed.
"Even when you're just a little kid like me?"
"They can if I tell them to. As far as you, I will have a lot to say about it," she said gritting her teeth together and staring directly into my eyes.
"Would you have them kill me dead, if I was to be real good for a long, long time. Would you?
Mother Winters just stood there gritting her teeth as she always did when she was mad at us kids.
"Then could I go back and live with my mom, so I won't get killed for doing bad things and all?" I asked.
"That is why you are here now. Even your own mother did not want you. They do not want criminals living in their houses. They want to be able to go to sleep at night, without being afraid that people like you will harm them while they are sleeping."
"I ain't never hurt nobody, Mother Winters. I just painted the neighbor's fence with that car oil and a paint brush," I replied.
"That is exactly what I am talking about. First, you are doing those types of things. Then you are making illegitimate babies. Next you’ll be killing people."
"I ain't never killed no babies," I said.
"Roger Dean. You are about as dumb a little shit as they come."
"I'll grow up and be somebody real important someday. I promise. You will see. Maybe president or somebody like that."
"Maybe an Al Capone," she said standing up and placing her hands on her hips.
"Was he a good president too?"
"Get your dumb little ass back over to the boys’ dormitory. RIGHT NOW!" she screamed.
Well, this incident took place many years ago. I am not exactly sure what I turned out to be. I know I did not turn out to be the president of the United States and I can only thank God I did turn out to be another Al Capone.
For some strange reason and in spite of all the abuse that I suffered while living in that terrible orphanage, I finally turned out to be what I was supposed to be all along: "ME"