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I often receive mail from readers offering various opinions as to my writing skills or subject line. All replies are appreciated and taken to heart by this author. Thought I would write a story which might appeal to those who think I am doing nothing more than complaining about my past life in a very abusive Jacksonville, Florida orphanage. HERE GOES:

OH HOW WONDERFUL



Once upon a time in the California Valley, I sat on a beautiful rock in the middle of a clear running stream, my mind not yet destroyed by adults. I sat watching the clouds drift by and smelling the crisp clear air. The butterflies twitted about, the birds flew overhead and the sun shone so bright. This was my favorite spot in the entire world - a place where I could laugh, giggle and splash the water with my tiny feet.

“Hello son. Isn’t this a glorious day? How are you?”

I turned to see my mother and father smiling at me on the bank. I climb down from the rock, run through the water and jump into the open arms of my loving mother. The three of us sit on the bank talking for hours about a wonderful place they want to take me to live - a new home called an orphanage.

They asked me if I would like to go to a wonderful place where I would be treated like a prince and have many other children to play with. They promised me I could have anything I wanted and would never be hit again. I would have lots of brothers and sisters. I would live in a cottage with real parents to care for me.

I could hardly wait. I went to pack my things and meet the man who would take me to my new home. He told me I did not need anything. I was so special I had many things just waiting for me when I got to my new home! I was jumping up and down, I was so happy!

The drive was long, but the nice man kept stopping to buy me candy, ice cream, hamburgers, French fries and Coke-a-Colas. We laughed all the way home!

“Look at that BIG HOUSE! Is that MY house?”

I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a mansion. I sure was special!

“Well, part of it.”

“Part of it? Was he kidding me? Golly-gosh!”

As we drove through the gates and up the beautiful arched driveway to the entrance of my castle, the door flew open and grown-ups and children were everywhere. They all ran toward the car. There was a huge banner over the whole front of the place, which read, “Welcome home, Roger. We love you.” The grown-ups were in tears and the children were dancing all around.

The nice man came around and opened my door for me. I got out and suddenly everybody was hugging and kissing me. The nice man hoisted me up on his shoulders and carried me inside.

I could not believe it! There was an orchestra and as soon as I entered, it began to play, “Hail, Hail the Gangs All Here.” It was a huge, bigger than big room and in every part of it, there were party decorations hanging from the high ceiling on tables and chairs, colored balloons floating all around, gaily wrapped presents, games to play… Oh, it was swell. However, the very best thing was the huge 25-tiered cake, complete with flowers and leaves and rope twists all made out of COLORED ICING! Yummy, yummy!

Thirty long tables spread with linen table cloths, napkins, party hats, shiny plates, fancy drinking glasses and gleaming silverware contained punch bowls flowing with punch of different kinds, hundreds of trays of cookies, 60 big brown 50-gallon cardboard containers with every kind of ice cream imaginable, two for each table and sacks full of candy. Boy, I really WAS special!

In the very middle of the room by the big cake was a carving of a prince on a horse made out of pure ice. The children made pictures using cardboard, crayons and finger paints. The pictures adorned the walls in great array. They said, “Welcome, Roger” or “Roger, we love you.” Even the grownups had made signs!

The man put me down and I could not move because I did not know what I was supposed to do. Grown-ups and kids started coming up to me again giving me hugs, friendly pats on the back, shaking my hand, tussling my hair. I did not know what to think. Due to all the food I ate on the trip, I was not very hungry but that sure was not going to stop me.

Cameras snapped my picture with the grown-ups and the children. The newspaper people were there too. They snapped pictures and clamored over each other to ask me questions. Then the mayor of Jacksonville came over and shook my hand! WOW!

Needless to say, we all ate until we were sick. I opened presents until I could not open any more. There was a Lionel train set, comic books, wood carving set, Tonka trucks, Lincoln Logs, Pick Up Sticks, marbles, coloring books, crayons, modeling clay, paint by number sets, binoculars, cowboy clothes to match the Lone Ranger, a big cowboy hat, a cowboy gun and holster, cowboy boots, a ride-a-horse on springs, new shoes, new clothes, a scooter, a bike, a little red wagon with wood sides on top of the wagon part, roller skates, a radio, books, puzzles and I still had hundreds of gifts to go.

The mayor of Jacksonville told me people from all over the city gave presents and money. I had $100,000 to use as I liked, but he hoped I would save it for my college education. However, the University of Florida had called to say the administration had gone ahead and granted me a full scholarship to U of F and I would automatically be pledged to any fraternity I desired. All of my college would be paid for by the state, so the mayor said I wouldn’t really need money for my education; it looked like I was one rich little boy. He gave me the scholarship, which had been signed by the U of F Board of Regents and the governor of Florida.

The party went on for hours and hours, and the carving made out of ice did not even melt. The cake had many slices out of it, but there were still 12 layers untouched. The woman in charge told me it was all mine and she would keep it in the walk-in cooler for me. Any time I wanted to have a piece, all I needed to do was call down to the kitchen and they would bring a piece to me no matter where I was. There was also lots of ice cream left, so she would be glad to heap ice cream on it too. She said I did not have to share it with anybody, if I did not want to.

Finally, it was time to go to bed and I was directed upstairs to the first door on the left. Still more surprises. I had a bunk bed with a ladder up to the top, blue plaid bed spread with fluffy pillows covered in matching pillowcases, matching dresser and table, a little cupboard full of potato chips, peanuts, crackers, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, chewing gum. My closet was full of new clothes just my size and I had 10 pair of shoes! In my dresser I found new socks, new underwear, new T-shirts, three new swimsuits and a watch. On top of the dresser was a brush and comb, a toothbrush, soap, a jar of bubbles for my bath time and a big mirror to see myself in. Over in the corner was a coat rack with a brand new coat on one hook and many baseball hats on the others. Way over in the corner by the closet was a new baseball bat, glove and ball. On the wall was an autographed picture of Babe Ruth. The inscription read, “To Roger! May you always hit home runs! See you at the ballpark, little buddy. Your friend, the Babe.”

Stuck in the frame just below the inscription was an envelope. Inside the envelope was a ticket, which said, “Admit Roger Kiser. Good anywhere in the U.S. Non-expiring admittance to any game I play - dugout or box office. Thank You, Babe Ruth.”

On the night table was a note, lovingly written by my new parents telling me I could go to the kitchen and find milk, cereal, Jell-O, fruit, hamburgers, cheese, ham, barbecued chicken, puddings, ice cream and cake, if I got hungry while the kitchen staff was gone. They left the kitchen open all night. Otherwise, I could use the phone by my bed and ask the switchboard for the kitchen. It was something called Room Service.

Suddenly, the door to my room opened and in walked my new parents with all the toys I had received, plus the gifts I had not been able to open yet. My room was so full of toys and games that we could hardly walk.

After we finally settled everything in as best we could, I climbed into my pajamas, went and brushed my teeth, used the bathroom and ran back to the room to be tucked in. My new mother read me the story of Christopher Robin and Pooh. Then she kissed me on my forehead, listened while I said my prayers and left. I slept all night dreaming of my new home, my new parents, and all my new brothers and sisters.

Oh, the visions of sugar plumbs must still dance inside my head as I think back upon my wonderful childhood in the orphanage.



GEE, writing this fiction crap is not as hard as I thought.



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