Orphan Survival Stories Index |
ANOTHER ORPHAN LETTER
I have been crying all afternoon! I just purchased your book today at a book fair here in Los Angeles (near the LAX airport area) while taking my 2 young girls shopping. I had no intention of purchasing the book as I was shopping for my daughters. When I picked up the book and started reading it, it was like reading my own life story!
I am 40 years old and spent my childhood in the Free Will Baptist Children's Home is Turbeville, S.C. At the age of 13 I was beaten so badly for speaking to my brother outside the laundry room (we had a boys side and girls side with dormitories and I was not allowed to talk to him) I decided I would run away to get my mother. (Of course, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The mental abuse, physical abuse had to stop as far as I was concerned). I knew this was not normal. Everyday I would wake up in the morning hoping it was all a bad dream and that I would be in my own bed at home. Huh, I had not seen her nor heard from my mother for over 5 years! Well, it ended up they gave me back to her (she was living in Jacksonville, FL). Within 2 months the State of Florida became my parents as my mother said that "I" was too unruly. I went from foster home to foster home always with the threat of going to that detention home for bad people in Georgia. (The punishment for foster kids running away was to go to juvenile hall).
I ran away when I was 14 never to look back! Every word that you wrote seemed like it was my life. I cried and cried all over again! I left Florida in 1977 after a series of very bad things. (I think there are a lot of no good people in that state!). I have recently learned that my brother suffered extreme sexual abuse in the Children's Home. He just told me 2 weeks ago. He is 4 years younger than me. I feel like I want to kill that guy who did it. I know his name. I just hate this!
I have worked in the LAX Airport area as a Sales Rep. for several companies. I also teach Sunday school and reside in Culver City, CA (just 2 miles no. of the LAX Airport area).
As far as your mom and my mom, my mother was drawing my social security checks and living on them with her dad (my grandfather) while I was in these places. For years I could not understand.
Even now that I have children, more so, I cannot understand how anyone could live with themselves without their children. My mother later went to a psychologist who put her on Zoloft. She is always asking me for money. I used to give it to her, but now I don't because I have to raise my family.
I still remember it everyday. It would be impossible not to. I have not gone back to South Carolina or Florida. 2 years ago, the Free Will Baptist Children's Home contacted me about a 50 year reunion. Unlike you, I did not go because I thought the memories would be too painful. Now I wish I had just to get closure. I still do have the opportunity as I do keep in touch with some of kids I knew since childhood there. One of which lives right outside of Atlanta who was a Virginia Slims model on billboards 15 years ago!
Yes, the world does need to know what happened. I can tell you stories (which you have probably already heard about) from a female perspective that are gruel to the grave, too. It took me years to be able to dance. It took me years to have a meal with a friend and feel comfortable. It took me years to be comfortable with people and not be so suspicious.
Today is Easter. I can remember my grandmother on my mothers side sending me an easter dress when I was 9 to the Children's Home. The mean old witch, Mrs. Sheehan didn't think "I" needed the dress (or the card) so she threw it away and never gave me my dress. I loved my grandma so and that was the one thing I had to look forward to. Someone that cared. I had nothing to wear except a wrinkled dress that I was not allowed to wear because it was not ironing day.
When I asked her for my dress she told me to shut my mouth. Then, she took a pair of scissors and cut my bangs so crooked because she said my hair is "madded up" and all in my face. This is just 1 of the hundreds or thousands of acts of unkindness that I experienced. I never got the card, dress, etc. She was also keeping our letters. I guess too the thing that bothered me was that my father's family lived about 20 miles away in a town called Cades, South Carolina. They came to visit maybe once every 2 years if that. The few times they did come my brother usually had to stand in the corner for being bad. Visitors were only allowed between 2-4 every other Sunday. My heart bled for my brother when he would stand in the corner. Mrs.Sheehan knew when they were coming to visit (which again was not often) ahead of time. I think from the depth of the mean spirit in her heart she would find anything to stick him in the corner just to be mean & humiliating. She used to beat him because he would dance in the shower and somebody always told. Even though she never caught him, it was just enough that somebody told. She said dancing was a sin.
Once he stole a cupcake. She made him eat 75 cupcakes for doing so as punishment. She told him " that will teach you from stealing". He was 5 years old. (Stealing from the place you live?) He started throwing up. She kept telling him to swallow his vomit. My little sister was screaming to stop it. They took her in pantry and beat her until her butt was purple & black. They beat him too in the end. (These are true stories!!!). Another time my brother was hungry so he ate some peanut butter down at the barn where they had to milk the cows. They made him eat the whole 5 pound bucket for punishment. She made another boy eat a carton of cigarettes. I remember they had a big trash can and every time he wanted to vomit she would say "Swallow it!" It was the most cruel thing. He was 17 years old. Later Mr. Sheehan took his belt off and beat him with the buckle until Mrs. Sheehan said to him" Stop or you will kill him".
You see, Mr. & Mrs. Sheehan were also friends with several politicians including the famous South Carolina Senator "Thurmond" who used to come by a lot. If anybody told anything you would have hell to pay.
One of the boys left the home and became a police officer and went back to South Carolina. He exposed all the bad doings and actually got them kicked off the premises. Yes, his name is Tommy Baron. I believe he became the Chief of Police in Sumter, SC and lived in the home too since he was a young boy. He is now married with 2 girls. He still does fund raisers at least twice a year and is very active there. He raises $30,000 - 40,000 at at time with the help of local charities.
Everyone was mad at me because they wrote a newspaper article that I contributed to back in 1982 that was on the front page of the state newspaper when Tommy exposed them. I got letters from Mrs. Sheehan's family begging me to say they were all lies. They must have been crazy. This was from a man that tried to have sex with me when I was 10 years old!
My friend that lives outside of Atlanta, Marie Sealander, just got married a year or 2 ago. She came to the Home as her parents were deaf & dumb. She still to this day has not even told her husband that she lived there in fear because she is so embarrassed. She has always kept up this face and will not speak. She hides it everyday. They just build a brand new home and she works for a law firm now. I wonder when she will tell him.
I would like my brother to speak with you. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He is still deeply hurt by all that happened to him. Every conversation I have ever had with him always ends up talking about the Children's Home and why mom left us. I mean every one. There is a sadness so deep within him that I pray that the light will come into his heart to warm him. You and him have similar experiences being both boys and lots of the same experiences happened to you the same way.
Again, I am sending a long email. I will send you a picture of me & my family soon. Please email me again when you have time.