Orphan Survival Stories Index |
THE TOWEL WHIP
I can remember many a terrible night at the Children's Home Society Orphanage Home in Jacksonville, Florida, but none as cruel and/or unnecessary as the night one of us boys left the shower dripping in the center bathroom of our dormitory.
"Alright, which one you damn kids left the water dripping in the shower?" asked the house parent.
"Not me!" yelled one boy.
"Me neither, Pop Henderson," said another.
"Get your damn little asses out here in the hallway right now," yelled Mr. Henderson.
One at a time, the boys slowly appeared in the hallway. There were boys ranging from about 6 to 12 years of age. I remember there was a total silence, which fell over the entire group. I could hear nothing, except 20 or 30 boys lightly breathing. I looked down to the floor in the hallway and saw nothing, except young boys with towels wrapped around them, some with water still dripping from their wet bodies.
"WHO LEFT THE DAMN WATER DRIPPING IN THE SHOWER?" yelled Pop Henderson.
Not one boy dared say a single word.
"Put your hands over your heads," Pop instructed.
One at a time, we boys let go of our towels and raised our arms above our heads. One of the boys snickered as several of the towels fell to the floor.
"SHUT UP, you little bastard!" yelled Pop.
Again, total silence fell over the large group.
"Let the towels hit the floor. NOW!" said Mr. Henderson.
One at a time, the towels hit the checkerboard floor of the hallway.
"BACKS AGAINST THE WALL!" he demanded.
There was a fast, short scurry and then all was silent again as we pressed our wet backs against the wall.
Mr. Henderson reached down and picked up one of the wet towels. He slowly rolled it into a tight rope and held it in his hand like a whip. Then he walked down the hallway looking into the face of each and every boy. Suddenly, he drew back the towel and with a popping sound, he jerked the whip downward until it cracked in the air over his head. He stopped in front of Bill Smith and looked directly into his eyes.
"Your the little bastard, aren't you?" he asked.
Little Billy Smith said nothing. Then Pop drew back the whip and let Billy have it right between his legs. Billy screamed, doubled over and fell to the floor crying. Pop Henderson kicked him in the back of his neck and then told him to "shut his mouth.” All us boys then huddled together into a tight ball.
"Line up against the damn wall," he said again.
Once again, we naked boys lined the hallway.
"Let's stick some wee-wees out here and see if we can pop a head or two off," he stated.
Slowly, we reached down and held out our private parts. As he moved down the line, we covered ourselves with both our hands for fear that he would pop us with the towel whip.
"I see we ain't got no REAL MEN HERE! Looks like a bunch of little worm’s peters to me," he belted out like a drill sergeant.
"Down on your knees. Walk around like little doggies," he ordered.
For about a minute or two, we crawled on our hands and knees up and down the hallway. Our naked bodies were starting to shiver from the cold.
"Okay, hands together and point them at the ceiling," he ordered.
Soon every one of us boys was kneeling with palms together and our hands raised to the ceiling.
"Now lets pray to God for an hour or two," said Pop.
As the hours passed and as our little arms grew tired and weary, they would fall to the floor. Then there would be another cracking sound as another one of us boys got popped with the towel whip. I remember looking at the whelps, some bloody and some just black and blue.
I will never forget what it was like to see 20 or 30 little naked bodies all being beaten and ordered around like they were nothing more than animals. One of the boys was hit in the face with the towel whip and his lip had a scar on it for years.
That very night, even though I was only 7 or 8 years old, what happened to us reminded me of the pictures I saw on television, where some bad, old man overseas was beating on people and then burning them up in ovens. I guess they never got to burn us kids. cause they didn't have big enough ovens at the orphanage, but we sure worried about them doing something like that to us for a real long time after that.
I told all the other boys that nothin' like that could ever happen in America, cause they would get into real bad trouble and stuff. We never did find out who forgot to turn off the shower faucet.
I will never forget being treated like that. I will never forget what it felt like to be nothing more than just 'a thing.'