Orphan Survival Stories Index |
MY MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER
If I had to choose just one person who has affected my life more than any other individual, it would have to be Mayme Winters or "Mother Winters," as we called her at the orphanage.
I am not exactly sure about her age, but when I first met her, I was about 5, so I guess she would have been in her mid to upper ‘30s. She was the Superintendent of Northeast Children's Receiving Home or as I call it, "The Children's Home Society Orphanage" located in Jacksonville, Florida.
I can honestly say that I have never met a more evil, vile, person in all my life. Even when making that statement, I still feel it is an understatement. This woman cared about nothing on the face of God's green earth, except herself and her position in the organization. She was mean, hard, depraved and very vindictive.
With complete honesty, I can also say that I never saw one single instance where Mother Winters ever held, hugged or cared for a child in a loving manner, other than for her own sexual needs and desires.
I cannot count the number of lives she destroyed over the 11 years I knew her. For even the slightest infraction, such as climbing a tree or riding a bicycle without permission, a child was hauled away. Some were taken to the juvenile hall and some sent to the reform school, until their 18th birthday.
This woman was absolutely the worse of the worst. She earned that title being an individual, who made children feel they owed her, simply because of the care they were receiving. She used her position as a tool to get want she wanted, that being respect and admiration by those who held power and authority within the community. She did not care about the children themselves or their welfare. She did not care about a child’s age, his or her needs or what the consequences might be later on in the child’s life.
One statement is from a woman whom I believe committed suicide last year, as the direct result of what Mrs. Winters did to her as a young girl. Other statements given to me last year, also tell of several house parents who molested children for more than three years, while living in both the girls and boys dormitories.
Let there be no doubt, Mrs. Winters was very professional in the performance of her duties. She was very neat and she was a very tidy individual. There was a demeanor about her that she exhibited, which would totally convince the authorities that she was 100 per cent correct in her accusations against the children. This woman learned how to lie very well by using just a little piece of the truth as the basis to substantiate her own lies.
The only thing that really mattered to her was that the well-oiled machine kept operating at a constant and steady pace. No one, not a teacher, minister, house parent, policeman or child, could throw a wrench into the perfectly operating machine she had created.
Her measures of strict control and absolute power worked very well for many years. However, when the children began to mature, she allowed no room for growth. It never occurred to her that a child’s thoughts, actions and decision-making abilities also matured as he or she grew. This process is considered normal by parents who have children. These changes scared her and she viewed them as major trouble for her machine. The older children were as quickly as possible, deposited in the criminal justice system.
In one particular instance, a young girl was abused for such a long period that now, as an adult living in Jacksonville, she only leaves her apartment to purchase groceries and see her doctor. Other than leaving for those two reasons, she has had no social life, whatsoever. The children's home had placed her in a foster home. She reported to The Children's Home Society that the foster family was molesting her. She knew she was only there as a gift to their son for his personal pleasure.
On one occasion, the family actually returned her to the Children's Home Society for one two-week period. The foster family was going on vacation and did not want the expense of taking her with them. When she reported what was happening to her, the Children's Home staff told her she had best "keep her damn mouth shut" and that she was "not going to ruin their fine record of family placements." The girl was made to return to that family, where she remained for another two years.
I can tell you this for a fact. I spent several years (two terms) in the Florida School for Boys Reform School in Marianna, all because of Mrs. Mayme Winters and her lies. I also spent several years in the federal prison system during the late ‘60s. I have never (and I repeat) I have never met a jail or prison guard who could hold a candle to “Mrs. Winters.”
"Mother Winters," as we were required to address her, would make us take off our clothes and stand naked, while she touched our private parts. Many times, we boys just snickered, laughed and giggled. To her, it was just a playful game.
Did we know that it would leave permanent scars on our memories? What sort of sick perverted creature would take pleasure in humiliating children? You would think that when someone is molesting a child, he or she would at least be smart enough to be kind. Her actions were designed to humiliate, demean and shame her small victims.
I was just a little boy at that time and I did not really understand what molestation meant. As far as I knew, I was just standing there following the directions of an adult. Besides, what grownup would do something that they might be sent to jail for? Therefore, whatever Mother Winters was doing to us had to be a ‘right thing.’
It is amazing to me, how I saw absolutely nothing wrong, when ordered by this woman to take off my clothes. I would just stand there with my little pants down around my ankles, while she did whatever it was she wanted to do. All along, I only thought she could get into trouble for slapping me across the face or on the buttocks.
After awhile, most of the boys did not even bother to talk about what was happening to them. I guess, because being ‘played with’ became a normal thing to all of us. After a few years, a secretive silence seemed to set in and no one openly talked about what was happening. Yet, sex became so impersonal that many of the boys had masturbation contests to see who could ejaculate the fastest. Pleasuring ones self by any means to achieve orgasm became something enjoyable.
For sure, we will never forget what Mother Winters did to us. Those days will be remembered forever and not in a pleasant way either.
What Mother Winter took from us can never be replaced. Many children, both boys and girls, lost their childhood. We lost our innocence forever. We have lost our ability to trust. We will never know the meaning of giving love and worse yet, the ability to receive love.
Yes, Mother Winter, if I had to choose the one person in my life who made the greatest impact on me, it would have to be you. I will not go so far as to say that I hope you rot in hell. I will leave that decision up to God himself.