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“You are never to cross this paved sidewalk. In fact, you are never to step foot on this sidewalk, ever. This is the most important rule we have here at this facility. Do you understand me?” said Mother Winters, the head matron of the Children’s Home Society Orphanage.

“Yes Ma’am.”

I was five years old and had been at the orphanage less than two hours before the strict orphanage rules were being explained to me.

“Now put your right foot down on the cement walk,” said the matron.

“But you said I was never to do that.”

“Put your foot on the sidewalk.”

I raised my foot and placed in on the concrete walkway.

All at once, the matron slapped me across the face, as hard as she could, almost knocking me off my feet.

“Didn’t I just tell you to never touch that sidewalk?”

“But you said for me to do it,” I told her, holding the side of my burning face.

“Now put your foot on the sidewalk again.”

“But I don’t know what to do.”

“PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK,” she snarled through her big red lips and gritted teeth.

Slowly, I once again raised my foot and held it several inches about the concrete sidewalk. Not having any idea what to do, I stood shaking in that position.

“PUT YOUR DAMN FOOT DOWN,” she screamed.

I stomped my foot down on the pavement and then pulled it upward and back toward me.

Before I knew what had happened; she had slapped me across the face more than a dozen times.

I fell to the ground, curled up into a ball and began to cry.

“Get up you illegitimate little bastard,” she screamed.

Picking myself up off the ground, I moved back and stood several feet from her.

I looked up and saw four or five young girls looking out the window of the Girl’s Dormitory.

“You little whores had best get out of that window,” screamed Mother Winters.

The girls disappear in a flash.

“Now, put your foot on the sidewalk.”

“I can’t touch the sidewalk, ever,” I mumbled

“Now we have this rule straight in our heads, RIGHT?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“Now you get your ugly little ass over to the Boy’s Dormitory and you wash your damn face.”

“Yes Ma’am,” I said, as I turned and began running toward the large white two-story brick building as fast as I could.

For several days I wondered why we were not allowed to cross or touch the concrete sidewalk. Even when marching to breakfast, dinner and supper, we boys were not allowed to touch the sidewalk. We had to walk down the rock road which ran along side of the walkway. It did not take me very long to realize that we boys were not allowed to cross the concrete sidewalk because the girl’s building was located just several feel beyond.

‘But what’s the big secret and why is that rule so important?’ I thought.

As the days, weeks, months and years passed, I began to learn the purpose of that rule. I soon learned that there was a difference between a girl and a boy; I also learned how babies were made and where they came from, though I did not believe that could possibly be true. I mean, someone would die with something that big inside of them.

I have always wondered if the importance of that rule was for the benefit of we children or for the benefit of the orphanage.

I may never know the answer to that question. But what I do know is that such a rule caused most of the children from that facility to be married four, five or even six times during the course of their adult lives. The boys and girls from that orphanage never kissed, held hands or even talked with someone of the opposite sex until they left the orphanage at age eighteen. Most never learned how to trust or have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex.

I guess for us “The Special Secret” will forever remain a secret.

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