Orphan Survival Stories Index |
ESCAPE FROM ALASKA
I picked up the telephone and called a local travel agent on St. Simons Island, Georgia. I was attempting to secretly pull off, without being detected by authorities, one of the biggest child abduction scams in Alaska's history. At least the biggest one ever pulled off from 4,000 miles away and without the parent being present.
I had not seen my two sons in almost 15 years. My ex-wife, being Eskimo, had taken my sons to some remote, outlying village and dared me to try to see them again. Well, this old white boy from the orphanage in Florida was nowhere near a genius. However, I was still smart enough to know better than to go prancing into some remote Eskimo village and try to throw my weight around, cause trouble or try to get my children back, if my wife was part of that village or had relatives in that area. The Eskimo people are very protective of their young and take any outside interference, especially from a white man, as a threat to the village as a whole. If the village decided you were wrong, it would take years, if ever, before they found what would be left of your carcass.
I left Alaska shortly after February of 1969 and headed down the Alcan Highway toward the lower 48 to start another life. I decided right then and there, I would never look back. I knew that I had returned to Alaska to try to repair the damage I caused to my wife and two boys, because of my irresponsible behavior. But she made it very clear to me one day as I sat on a rooftop repairing shingles, that I was unwanted in that family. She told me very clearly that I would never set eyes on my two sons, ever again and then told me exactly where I could go. And she was not talking about the lower 48 United States.
Thirteen years had passed since that time and now that I owned a small business, I could afford to try to locate my two sons. Over the next several months, I managed to locate the boys; they were living in Fairbanks, Alaska with their mother and stepfather. One day, I phoned their apartment and James answered. I told him who I was and asked to speak with his brother, Kevin. I asked them to discuss it and let me know if they wanted to fly out of Alaska and come to live with me. I made it very clear that this had to remain a total secret. Several days later, I received a collect call from Kevin telling me they both wanted to come to live with me in Georgia. I again made it very clear that this was a very risky venture and if they were caught before flying into Georgia air space, which allowed them the right to choose a parent at age 14, they could be returned to Alaska. Also, that I might be put in jail for a very long time.
I made the necessary arrangements from every angle, making sure that the timing was exactly right. When their mother left for her weekly trip to the supermarket, I had them call a taxi, grab their suitcases and head directly to the airport. Their prepaid tickets and money were waiting for them at the Alaska Airline ticket counter and their flight left within the hour.
I sat for hours worrying and hoping that no one had seen them, and that no one would find out what happened or where they went, at least until they entered Georgia air space. At that point in time, they would have the legal right to make a choice as to which parent they wanted to live with. I knew they would arrive in Georgia about nine hours after they left Alaska, so I headed for the airport about an hour early. I was very nervous watching for the plane to taxi up to the terminal building. I had not seen my two boys since they were 2 and 3 years old. I watched as each person left the airplane. Finally, two boys came walking, side-by-side, down the steps. I had no doubt they were part Eskimo as their hair was jet black. I looked at James, the older of the two and saw a head of hair, which almost scared me to death.
“How can a normal human head support a rack of hair like that?” I thought.
As the two boys approached me, we introduced ourselves, shook hands and then I hugged them. I was very nervous, as I am sure they were, but still I was very glad to see my sons after all those years. All I could remember about them was their lying on their bed in our home in Alaska, many years ago, and how I played with them and made them laugh aloud. We all walked slowly to the car and then headed back to the store in Brunswick where I had my motor home parked. We were living in it temporarily, until we established another business in Waycross.
After about a week, things started to turn sour. James was beating on Kevin constantly and we found out later that he had also been burning our four-year-old son, Roger Jr. with cigarettes. When I confronted him about this, he said he was mad because his name should have been Roger Jr., not his little brother; that he was actually the firstborn and should have had the name Roger. I told him that even if this was true, it was not Roger's fault and I never wanted to hear of him doing that type of thing to anyone, ever again. But as time went on, things got even worse.
Kevin was a more mild natured kid than James and had a heart of gold, as well as being a very hard worker. James was harsh and I could tell he almost had a hatred for me, because of what happened between his mother and me. I did not know what else I could possibly do, other than to find them and try to make up for whatever wrong I had done them in the past. However, James was not going to give me that chance. He continued to burn Roger with cigarettes, as well as burn the couch, curtains and beds in the motor home.
Finally, I reached the end of the rope. I could not allow him to destroy my marriage, which was being strained by his excessive conduct or allow him to continue to treat Roger or Kevin as he was. The worse thing was, I did not want my boys to end up parentless. Their mother had already found out what I had done and made it very clear to the boys that they were not welcome in her home, ever again. James knew how I felt about orphans and parentless children, and he also knew I would not send him packing down the road with nowhere to go. He took every advantage of that notion to the fullest degree. The day finally came when I could take no more; I told James I would buy him a ticket back to Fairbanks and he would have to return to Alaska. He appeared to be somewhat confused and did not seem to believe that I meant exactly what I said, and that I would not change my mind.
James got up from the chair and left the office. Several minutes later, my wife came walking into the room and said she wanted to talk with me. I already knew James had talked with her and she was there to talk me out of sending him back to Alaska. What she did not know was that I did not intend to send James back to Alaska. I was trying to make him see that he had placed himself in a very bad situation, one of his own doing and he needed to realize just how bad the situation was; he needed to try to figure out a way to save himself. I felt he would realize he had no choice but to conform and would start getting along with everyone as a family.
About that time my half sister, Linda, whom I had found several months previous, drove up to the office. Of course, that made the situation even worse by talking in front of James as though he was a poor, mistreated little child who just needed a chance to be a good kid. She told him he could come to her house and live with her family.
Off they went and I thought that in time, James would want to come back, work at the business, make some money and start a life of his own. I did not hear anything from any of them for more than two weeks, so I decided to drive over and see how everything was going. When I arrived at Linda's home, everyone was sitting around talking and everything appeared to be going very well. I asked James how he was doing, but he looked away and refused to answer me. I talked with Linda for a few more minutes and then walked out the door. Closing the door, I heard someone call me an S.O.B. I acted as though I did not hear the remark, walked on to my car, got in and drove away.
Several days later, I returned once again to talk with Linda, asking her if I could buy anything in exchange for her keeping James. As I left the house, I heard James call me another name. However, again I just continued walking to my car, not saying anything and returned to my office. Kevin met me out front and asked me if James was doing all right. I told him he appeared to be happy. Kevin went on and on about James and finally told me that he wanted to go see him. He wanted to see if James would return to our home, so he and James could start working together.
We headed back to Linda's house. When we arrived, Kevin and James walked around to the back of the house and had about a half-hour discussion. They returned to the kitchen and Kevin told me he was ready to leave, and that James wanted to stay with Linda. Kevin and I got up and walked down the driveway toward the car that was parked at the street. As we were walking away, a large rock hit Kevin in the middle of the back and I heard James call me a "no-good son-of-a-bitch." I told Kevin to get in the car and we drove away.
When we returned to the office, I sat down and started tapping a pencil on the desk. My wife asked me what was wrong. I looked up at her and said, "Nothing that I cannot straighten out." I got up, walked back to the car and headed back toward Linda's house. I parked and walked into the kitchen where everyone had just set down at the table for supper. I stood there for about a minute. James did not even look up at me and acted as though I was not there at all. When he finally did look toward me, there was a look of hate in his eyes.
"I came back, because I feel you have something that you want to say to me,” I told him.
He got up from the table, balled up his fists and said, "As a matter of fact, I do."
He started toward me, which was all it took. What happen next, I wish would never have happened between my son and me. It is something I shall never forget as long as I live. I will not even describe what happened, but it was not a pretty sight. Within a week or two, I bought James a return ticket to Alaska. As he was about to leave, we hugged one another and I told him that I loved him, which I do and always have from the very day that he was born, and just as I do Kevin, Twila and Roger, Jr.
James could care less if anyone else on the face of this earth ever had a hard life. That means absolutely nothing to him. All that matters to him is that he feels he got a raw deal. Anything past that train of thought is totally mute and meaningless to him. I have done everything possible to try to make up for whatever wrong I might have done my children in the past. I made myself available to them and I spent thousands of dollars to try and right those wrongs.
That is certainly 10,000 times more than anyone has ever done for me. My own mother lives less than 300 miles from me and has spoken to me less than 10 times in her entire life. I certainly hope that if things should change with us before she dies, that I do not treat her as badly as my son treated me.
I may not love my mother, just as my son may not love me. But she is my mother and that is all that matters to me. I shall always respect her as my mother, for my sake as a man and as a little boy who hopes that she really does love me. That will be more than I will ever get from my son, James. He has yet to learn that his own children, who are spread all over the state of Alaska are going to turn on him one day for the mistakes that he committed in his past. As he gets older, he will open his arms to them, just for a brief moment and they will also look down on him, just as he did with me.
When they do, he will shake his head in disgust, give them the finger and say, "Screw them all. It was their Grandpa who caused all of this to happen, not me."
That is the 75 to 100-year-old "end result" caused by one young child living in an orphanage for only 4,380 days.