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THE DINING-ROOM



The times that I was not locked in the closet and I went to eat in the dining room. Many times I got sick. Most of the food we were fed was a large purple thing called egg plant. That together with a greasy, smelly meat called lamb.

The matron told me that I had to eat everything on my plate before I could be excused. All of the girls sat on benches without backs, at very long tables. If we did not sit up with our backs straight we were beaten with a leather belt. I remember tasting "the purple thing" as well as the meat. I remember throwing up in my plate. The matron told me that I had to eat it, vomit and all, and that I could not leave until I did.

I remember sitting at the table for a very long. Long after the light had left the sky. The matron happen to fell asleep at her position at the table. I scooped, and stuffed the purple stuff, along with the greasy meat, into the pockets of my shorts. I sat there for the longest time. When the matron woke she saw that my plate was empty. She smiled, knowing that I had ate the vomit, and told me to go to bed. I went into the bathroom and I flushed the purple stuff, the meat and the vomit down the potty. The next morning at breakfast the purple stuff and the smelly meat was again on my plate. Again, I threw up. I was made to sit there until lunch and was told that I would not get any other food until I had eaten everything on my plate from the breakfast meal.

This was the same routine for days. Days that somehow turned into weeks, and weeks that turned into years.

I could not count the hours that I was locked in a dark, scarey closet for refusing to eat the disgusting purple stuff and smelly, greasy meat.

One day, while in the closet, I got the idea that I should run away. The next day three other children and myself ran away from the orphanage, two girls and a boy. Before leaving we went through the garbage cans, located out back of the dining-room, and found that the food in the garbage was much better than the purple stuff and the smelly meat that we had to eat.

While gone we hid as much as possible. During the day we played on the swings in the park and at night slept in card-board boxes. But in time the cops found us and took us back to the orphanage. The matron told the cops that we had been gone for almost two weeks. I, and the other kids, felt good that no one had found us right away. It felt good to taste freedom.

The two girls and I were beaten with a leather belt, in front of all the other girls in the dining room. Then we were dragged into separate closets and the doors were locked. I was bleeding from the beating. I was sore, scared and dirty. I cried for hours hoping that my mommy, or my grandma, would come and save me from this horrible place of evil. I sat there in the dark wondering what it was that I had done that was so bad. Why did they not come for me and stop the beatings?

Was it because I was sick and that I could not breath very well?

Was it because grandma had told me to look after my little sister, Virgalene and that she could not find her at the home one time?

I knew that my little sister was only two years old and that I was supposed to be looking after her. Was I a bad girl and maybe I needed to be beaten and left in a closet away from the good little girls?"

That is what I heard the matron say, one day. Maybe I could get lucky and I could die like the dog. Just like the dog I had seen dead in the road one day. Then the beatings would stop, for real.

After I left the home I learned that the purple stuff was egg plant and to this day I cannot eat egg plant, or lamb! I also learned that these foods were a commodity and that is why we had to eat it three times a day. I also learned that because of the young age of my sister that she was locked in another section. That it was forbidden for us to see one another.

"Daddy Fagg", the head administrator, and the pink dressed matrons, have a lot of things to answer for. They should not have been allowed to take their anger, and their frustrations, out on children. No matter how bad the children were. No child deserves such treatment.

Margaret Baylor



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