Orphan Survival Stories
“BUT I DON’T WANT TO ENTERTAINMENT”
Not a sound could be heard as we boys ran back and forth to one of the three upstairs bathrooms of the large two-story white brick orphanage dormitory building.
DAMIT IT! Hurry it up, people are waiting to be entertained,” screamed Mother Winters, the head matron.
“Why do we have to entertain,” asked little Billy Smith?”
“These are the people who feed your ugly little ass. That’s why,” she replied in a harsh tone.
Saying not a word, I continued on my journey to hurriedly get dressed in my Sunday best. After wiping my shoes off on the corner of the bedspread; I headed to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror. As usual there was that cow-lick sticking straight up.
‘Maybe I can act like a cow this time,’ I thought.
“MOOOOooooooo, I said into the large unclear mirror.
“Eugene, did I sound like a cow?” I asked the older boy.
“You sound like an idiot. That’s what you sounded like.”
Ten minutes later, we boys were lined up two abreast headed for the Piano Room at the dining room building where Mother Winter’s quarters were located. We entered the breezeway porch where we were ordered to stop and each boy was inspected from head to toe. Ordered to move ahead, we marched through the glass doors of the dining room and headed down the long dark hallway where more than fifty adults were waiting for our arrival. The first old man I saw had a long, white beard.
“That must be the man who feeds us. He looks like Moses,” I whispered to Bill Stroud.
“That can’t be Moses. He’s all dead now.”
“How can he be dead when he’s sitting right there, stupid,” I replied.
When the last boy entered the room, all the old people began to clap. My mind was racing, ninety miles per hour, trying to figure out what I wanted to do to entertain those who fed us. As the clapping stopped, little Billy Smith was the first in line to perform. He moved not a muscle was the large crowd waited in anticipation. Mother Winters quickly grabbed Billy by the arm and pulled him to the center of the room.
“But I don’t want to entertainment,” he replied, as he began to cry.
The crowd laughed as the matron grabbed him by the arm and drug him to the side.
“TOMMY,” she screamed, looking somewhat embarrassed.
Seven year old Tommy Jernigan walked to the center of the room and began dancing like an Indian doing a rain dance. I was rather surprised as he did it rather well. After several minutes he completed his routine and stopped. The old people clapped and several were laughing. As Tommy walked to the back of the line I walked forward and stopped in front of the man who looked like Moses.
“I was going to sound like a cow but that makes me like an idiot,” I replied.
The room roared with laughter.
“Isn’t he just the cutest thing you ever seen?” replied a heavy set woman, wearing a big ugly hat with fruit on it.
“I ain’t really no good at nothin’, ‘cept cleaning toilets and raking leaves,” I replied.
Mother Winters ran out, grabbed me by the arm and jerked me off my feet.
“This boy is somewhat retarded so you will have to excuse him.”
Later that evening, I got the beating of my life with the dreaded sandpaper polo paddle.
I have not thought about that incident for more than fifty years. But yesterday when I was about to enter Glynn Place Mall, I saw a young man in his twenties, a small monkey sitting at his side. Both were dressed in red, somewhat clownish outfits, each trimmed along the edges in a gold lace. I stopped and began staring at the two of them.
The young man snapped his fingers and the monkey immediately began to dance.
“That is how he earns his food,” replied the man.
“I KNOW,” I said, as I emptied more than three dollars in change into the red and gold cup sitting at his feet.
Roger Dean Kiser, Sr.