Previous | Orphan Survival Stories Index | Next
"I really feel sick," I said to the house parent at the orphanage.
She reached over, felt my 7-year-old forehead and said, “MY GOD BOY! You are burning up with fever."
I was taken by the hand and walked over to the infirmary building at the Children's Home Society Orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I'm all dizzy like and I feel really, really sick today, Mother Winters," I told the head matron.
"Take him to the last room on the left and put him to bed," Mrs. Winters told the house parent.
"Maybe we should take him to see the doctor," said the matron.
"Just put him in bed and he'll be alright."
"I don't think so. This boy has a fever of at least 103 or better," said the matron.
"Just put him in the bed," ordered Mrs. Winters pointing to the double doors leading into the infirmary.
I was taken to the room, undressed and placed in the bed. I lied there for more than 30 minutes listening to the matron and Mother Winters arguing out in the hallway - about taking me to see the doctor.
"If he dies, then we will know that we were wrong. Won't we?" said Mother Winters.
I heard the matron walk down the long hallway and close the door behind her, as she left to return to the boys’ dormitory.
"Am I gonna die?" I asked Mother Winters.
"You're not going to die. All you have is Scarlet Fever. The redness and the fever will all go away in several days or so."
"I'm really hot and burning like. Can I have a cold rag?
"You just stay in the bed and don't you get out. Do you hear me young man?" she ordered.
About an hour after she left to go back to her quarters, I just could not take the burning any more. Something way down deep inside of me said if I did not do something I would die really soon.
I went into the bathroom, closed the door and filled the tub, real quiet like, with water. Then I took off my pajamas and slid down into the icy cold water. I cooled myself off as I lay there in the cold water. I cried and begged to God and Jesus, to not let me die of the fever. When I finally got out of the tub, I felt a whole lot better and not so hot and burning up.
Two days later, they told me that I was well, so Mother Winters sent me back to my dormitory. I was not a real smart kid way back then, but I was smart enough to know that adults could not be trusted and that I might have died, if Mother Winters had been wrong.
I know one thing for sure. I will never forget the words "If he dies, then we will know that we were wrong. Won't we?"