Orphan Survival Stories Index |
NOW YOU KNOW
(the rest of the story)
I cannot explain to you in words just how excited I was when I heard that a real mommy and a daddy were coming to take me, and Beulah Gillman away from that terrible orphanage. At last, I would finally have someone who would love me, and buy me toys and nice things. Maybe even have a dog of my very own.
I ran up the front staircase of the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida and dressed as fast as I could. Then I ran into the large bathroom, climbed up onto a wooden stool and began brushing my teeth with my finger and soap from the soap sock.
This was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life. Even though I was only 7 years old, had great big ears just like "Dumbo the Elephant" and scars on my face, someone still wanted to take me home to live with them. It was a wonderful, wonderful, feeling.
I could hardly believe that all of this was happening. Beulah and I were placed into the great big black car and all the people at the orphanage home were taking pictures of us. I was laughing, and jumping up and down in the back seat. Everyone was waiving at us and smiling. All the other boys and girls were looking out the windows of the dormitories and they all looked real sad. Some were even crying, 'cause I was leaving them forever.
I'll never forget leaving those big white gates and all those big tall wire fences behind as we drove away. I don't think Beulah was very happy about getting a mommy and daddy of her own. She just kept holding onto my arm, and I just kept on hugging her and telling her that we would have our own house real soon, but all she did was cry. Finally we got to our new home. Boy! What a great big house it was too, just like a great big house sitting on top of another great big house. It was like a mansion house or something with a great big yard.
I was surprised when we started to eat supper out in the back yard. More people showed up and started taking pictures of us eating all these big meat steaks. One man even had a movie camera and was making a movie of all of us laughing and having lots of fun. I stood up on the table bench and made a funny face for the man doing the movie. Then he asked me to go and sit on the woman's lap and let him film me with my new mommy. Then the man asked me to sit on his shoulders and he rode me around like I was a cowboy riding a horse. We sure had lots of fun that day. But finally night came and when everyone left, we were taken inside and given a bath in a tub. I had never had a bath in a tub before, just in a shower stall back at the orphanage. That was a real good night. We said our prayers and I thanked Jesus over and over for giving me a new big home. Oh yeah and for a new mommy and daddy! Beulah didn't say much. She just cried most of the night.
The next morning, we had a big breakfast with all kinds of food and real milk too. Not that warm white, power stuff like we had to drink at the orphanage. After breakfast, my new daddy told us that we all had to go somewhere together, so off we went for a ride in his car. I could hardly believe it when I saw him driving back into the orphanage gates. I asked him why were back at the orphanage. He told me that Beulah and I would have to pack our "personal stuff" and then he would come back to get us later that afternoon.
I waited for him to come back, but he never did. Everyday for weeks, which turned into months and then years, I would watch the big white gates to see if I could see his car coming to get us. But he never did. I never could figure out why he never came back. At first I thought it was because Beulah cried all the time. Then I thought it might be because I jumped up on the table when the man was doing the movie of all of us. This all happened about 47 years ago. Beulah Gillman died several months ago, a grandmother of eight, still living somewhere in Jacksonville, Florida. Today, I received the following letter from Beulah "Cookie" Gillman's relatives. "Roger, thank you so much for responding so quickly. I read your book over the weekend and my heart goes out to you and all the children that were tortured in that Hell Hole! I did want to ask you though, the boys that left you at the school with the goldfish, did you ever find out where they went or hear from them again?
Also, Willette, Cookies daughter, said that when Cookie was about 5 or 6 you and her did a commercial about adopting foster children. Do you remember that? If so, do you remember where and when it was? Willette wants to try and track down the tape. Also, was there anyone who wrote the girls’ side of this story? I look forward to hearing from you again and thank you for your writing your book "Orphan."
I never knew, until I received the above letter, that it was all just "a commercial." All these years, I lived secretly thinking that I was not good enough to be adopted by those people.
As Paul Harvey always says: “Roger, now you know the rest of the story.”
Copyright © Roger Dean Kiser, Sr. All rights reserved