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THROWING IN THE TOWEL
As a very young boy attending school through my elementary and high school years, for some strange reason I always wondered what exactly made the principal tick. What made them any better or any worse than just a 'regular old teacher?'
I do know one principal (Billy Brantley) somewhat personally, because he was one of the boys raised with me in the orphanage home in Jacksonville, Florida.
When I first arrived at the home, I was about 5 or 6 years old. He took me into the back room of the dormitory and placed me into a large cement sink. Then he poured bleach all over me. Of course, I chalk that up to… well, him being young himself and possibly following the matron's directions. However, the following incident was much, much worse and happened many years later, when he was about 15 or so.
I came walking down the upstairs hallway headed toward my bedroom.
"What do you want?" asked Mr. Henderson, the house-parent in charge of the boys’ dormitory.
"Just going to my bedroom," I told him.
I noticed that Mr. (Pop) Henderson was holding the door to my bedroom closed with his hand. He opened the door and then he walked in leaving me alone, out in the hallway. Slowly, I walked up to the door and looked in. I saw Wayne Evers, my roommate, lying across the bed, his face and hair all bloody. There was Billy Brantley standing there, his fists all red from blood, breathing in and out real hard.
"I'm not afraid of you," said Wayne, somewhat crying.
"You beat that son-of-a-bitch some more," said Pop Henderson.
Billy reached down, grabbed Wayne by the neck and started beating him in the face as hard as he could. Blood was squirting all over the beds as they continued to wrestle around from place to place in the bedroom.
"Billy's gonna kill Wayne!" I hollered.
"Shut up. Shut your mouth and go get some towels," ordered Pop Henderson.
I ran as fast as I could into the bathroom and started grabbing as many towels as I could find. Then I ran back to the bedroom where I stopped at the doorway.
"Get off the little bastard," yelled Pop Henderson to Billy, who was still beating Wayne in the face.
Slowly, Billy got up and backed away from Wayne.
"Give him some of those damn towels," Pop Henderson said to me.
I walked into the room and handed Wayne several of the towels. He picked the towels up off the bed and then threw them onto the floor, landing beside of the bed.
“I was hoping that when I put you two little bastards in a room together,” Pop Henderson said looking at Wayne and I, “that you two would kill one another. But I guess that we could not be that lucky.”
Billy walked over, picked up the towels and then threw them at Wayne, covering his head. Wayne grabbed the towels and once again threw them to the floor.
"Beat that son-of-a-bitch again. I don't give a shit if you kill him," Pop Henderson yelled at Billy, slinging his arm into the air.
Once again Billy, without hesitation, jumped on Wayne and began beating him in the face as hard as he could. I really could not believe what I was seeing with my very own eyes. I could not believe that one of our own could or would beat one of his own orphan brothers to the point of killing him.
The beating went on and on for at least 20 minutes. When it was all over, Pop Henderson and Billy Brantley both left the room. I stood there looking at Wayne, who was lying across the bed unable to move a muscle. When I walked up to him, I reached out and rolled him over onto his back. When I looked at his face, I could not even tell who he was.
If I remember correctly, it took some 13 stitches to sew Wayne's lip back into place.
This type of abuse was commonplace in the Children's Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida. It went on for years and years, until most of us, both boys and girls, ran away or were finally sent off to reform schools, prison or out into the streets.
Wayne Evers now lives in Gainesville, Georgia (678) 450-9332 and I live in Brunswick, Georgia.
Beulah Gillman, one of the girls at the orphanage with us, who was a grandmother of eight, just hung herself at her home in Jacksonville, Florida last weekend. I guess some of the kids never got over all that abuse we had to suffer for 15 years.
It is not the beating that drove many of these kids (now adults) to commit suicide. It had to do with never having been taught how to love someone and to be loved. They did not know how to give it or receive it. That was the worst part of being abused as a child.
Well, at least someone became a principal. That's better than noth'in.